2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis (912 October 2011)
Paper No. 97-25
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:00 PM


CHAMBERLAIN, Elizabeth L., WEBB, A. Alexander G., and BERGERON, Philip G., Geology and Geophysics, Louisiana State University, E235 Howe-Russell Geoscience Complex, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, echamb1@tigers.lsu.edu

In response to a graduate student suggestion (by author ELC), a Field Apprentice-Instructor (FAI) program has been started in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. The program increases learning opportunities and access to instruction for both graduate and undergraduate students. The idea is time-tested and simple: more graduate students participate in more ways during undergraduate field trips. Our specific approach was applied during the week-long 2011 field trip of the undergraduate Structural Geology class (GEOL 3071) to Big Bend National Park, Texas. Prior to the trip, FAI graduate students prepared one or more 15 minute lectures in consultation with the instructor (author AAGW) on topics reflecting their own strengths and interests. Chosen topics included volcanology, sedimentology, paleontology, and non-geology subjects of ecology and even international border culture. FAI lectures were offered at relevant field sites approximately one a day. Most of the daily learning at Big Bend remained structural geology exercises for which FAI students served as teaching assistants.

The FAI program provided diverse benefits: (1) the FAI students provided an improved student-teacher ratio, which was highly valuable as undergraduates began their first field mapping exercises. (2) The FAI lectures offered educational pauses in exercise-based instruction that were appreciated by undergraduate students. (3) The FAI approach allowed graduate students to conduct an important form of instruction which is rarely offered by teaching assistant jobs, nor by graduate schools in general: preparation and delivery of undergraduate-level lectures on independently determined topics. (4) Instructor-FAI consultations helped the FAIs learn good teaching practices that are particularly useful for graduate students considering academic careers. (5) The instructor learned from the FAI lectures, increasing his knowledge base for future trips to the area. Thus, the FAI approach offers multiple benefits for university field trips, particularly those with large class sizes. This approach may be successfully adapted to various teaching endeavors spanning many university departments. The authors welcome inquiries from those considering using or adapting this approach.

2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis (912 October 2011)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 97--Booth# 77
Geoscience Education (Posters) II
Minneapolis Convention Center: Hall C
9:00 AM-6:00 PM, Monday, 10 October 2011

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 43, No. 5, p. 257

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