Paper No. 10
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:05 PM
SENIOR STUDENT MENTORSHIP IN FIELD METHODS
Teaching field methods is a key element of undergraduate geology education. Student-led instruction on field trips provides a contrasting experience of field methods taught in undergraduate classes that calls for greater self-reliance and independent problem solving in a peer-to-peer situation. During the 2009 spring break, senior students of the Geological Society of Temple University, with logistical support from the department, led a trip to George Washington National Forest of West Virginia. The trip accomplished three goals: 1) engage senior students in organizing a field trip whose focus was to lead undergraduate students in acquiring sedimentary and stratigraphic data from the study of outcrops, 2) mentoring of students in a peer environment, 3) acquire a detailed measured section to asses sea level change. Field trip preparations included a background lecture one week before departure, reviewing the geologic context and necessary equipment for the trip. Upon arrival, another brief lecture reviewed the geologic setting and features evidenced in outcrop including depositional boundaries, sedimentary structures, and their strike and dip. Students were then divided into teams of three that included at least one experienced undergraduate or graduate student. Each team was tasked with measuring and describing twenty vertical meters of outcrop, which were then integrated into a fence diagram. Analysis of field notes revealed that teams did not consistently record all critical data, such as sedimentary structures or lithologic boundaries, which complicated graphical representation of data. Discussion of this issue revealed the necessity for a data-gathering rubric in multi-team projects as well as the need to review notes in the field during data gathering. This exercise was a success in several aspects. New geology students gained practical experience in making small-scale observations in order to interpret broader geologic processes. Additionally, upper-level students were able to reinforce their own geologic knowledge in a leadership role by mentoring less experienced students. Senior geology students with field experience should be encouraged to organize and lead their own academic field trips for the benefit of both themselves and their peers.