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

Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 9:30 AM


REESE, Joseph F., Geosciences, Edinboro Univ of Pennsylvania, Cooper Hall, Edinboro, PA 16444 and STRAFFIN, Eric C., Geosciences, Edinboro Univ of Pennsylvania, Centennial Hall, Edinboro, PA 16444,

Geology Field Trip is a three-credit course that provides an introduction to field geology for entry-level students, serves as a field-based elective for majors, and satisfies the science-education field requirement. We run the course as a 10-day-long trip in mid-May, with several logistical and instructional meetings with students before and after the trip.

Because we vary destinations with each offering, we purposefully design our trip itineraries around several central geological themes. Though the distribution of key geologic localities largely controls the trip’s logistical design, the educational structure and direction revolve around these few themes. Formulating themes and articulating them to students at the outset focuses the educational content of the course. These themes connect geographically distant points together—ones visited for their geologic interest perhaps several days apart—and continually center students back to the trip foci. We typically embed these themes: 1) rock identification and interpretation; 2) stratigraphy, depositional settings, and paleogeography; 3) structural features and processes; 4) tectonic settings and history; 5) landforms and landscape processes and evolution; 6) role of water as a resource and geologic agent; 7) human-environment interactions; and 8) regional geologic history.

Our strategy for conducting this field trip is to attach each field stop, and activities and exercises done at each stop, to at least one of the themes. During the trip, students do specific tasks involving observation and interpretation of key sites. They also give a presentation on a site-specific topic while in the field. Maintaining a field notebook helps students focus daily on the themes, and an end-of-trip synthesis allows student teams to construct a regional geologic history. With the themes in mind, students become more adept at integrating and synthesizing information. They are more fully engaged throughout the trip. With this theme-based design, we've created a field trip course that 1) provides students the opportunity to experience the joys of discovery in the field, 2) has students actively participate in knowledge acquisition, 3) bolsters observational, interpretive, and inquiry skills, and 4) requires students to communicate their findings in a variety of ways.