Northeastern (46th Annual) and North-Central (45th Annual) Joint Meeting (20–22 March 2011)

Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 8:45 AM


VICE, Daniel H., Penn State Hazleton, 76 University Dr, Hazleton, PA 18202,

Laboratory exercises and field trips are a basic component of teaching geology but some education authorities, e.g., McKeachie et al. (1994), suggest that these methods do not reach their full potential. However, research on student learning suggests that the use of field trips helps students retain information by relating subject matter to emotions (Mackenzie and White, 1982; Kern and Carpenter, 1986; Weekes and Carpenter, 1993).

The presenter taught an introductory geology course for non-majors that had one field trip integrated into the laboratory component of the class. The students were taken on a 5 mile field trip (Waller, 1998) during the regularly scheduled laboratory period.

The students were expected to learn several things from each stop. For example, at the first stop, the students were shown the change in sediments during a regression of the sea from below wave base to the nearshore environment and sedimentary layers that had been rotated 95° from horizontal. At the second stop, the students were shown differential erosion. The third stop was at a working coal mine where the students were shown a procedure to control acid mine drainage. At the fourth stop, the students were shown permability (in a fracture zone), stream channel and overbank deposits. The formation of coal during the Pennsylvanian period was also explained at this stop.

The field trip was one part of the course that the students enjoyed the most based on class ratings taken at the end of the semester and on anecdotal comments from the students.


Kern, E. L., and Carpenter, J. R., 1986, Effect of field activities on student learning, Journal of Geological Education, v. 34, p. 180-183.

MacKenzie, A. A., and White, R. T., 1982, Fieldwork in geography and long-term memory structures, Am. Educational Research Journal, Winter, v. 19, p. 623-632.

McKeachie, W. J., Chism, N., Menges, R., Svinicki, M., and Weinstein, C. E., 1994, Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers: D. C. Heath and Company, Lexington, Massachusetts, 444 p.

Waller, Mike, 1998, In 5.3-mile drive, millions of years, Pottsville Republican-Hearld, March 3, p. 1 and 6.

Weekes, A. F., and Carpenter, J. R., 1993, A comparison of two approaches to a course on the geology of South Carolina for teachers, Journal of Geological Education, v. 41, p. 412-419.