Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 8:30 AM
ENHANCING THE IMPACT OF STRATIGRAPHY AND PALEONTOLOGY UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH ON STUDENT LEARNING
Student/faculty research has become an important part of the undergraduate academic experience. Slippery Rock University’s Department of Geography, Geology and the Environment views faculty/student research as central to our academic mission. Collaborative efforts of faculty and students create an environment where students can apply knowledge gained in their coursework, develop research skills, and conduct research and professionally present their findings. These relationships create an opportunity to interact outside the classroom where meaningful dialogue between the students, faculty and professionals is enhanced. Involving students in research expands learning, improves field and laboratory skills, develops collaboration among a network of experts, and boosts confidence. Faculty/student research collaborations at SRU in stratigraphy and paleontology have attracted several students interested in advancing their learning about paleoenvironments. During the summer of 2009, four undergraduate students participated in a field project in NE Nevada. The study investigated the stratigraphy and paleontology within the Pennsylvanian/Permian Hogan and Dry Mountain trough basins. While in the field students became more confident, improved upon their field skills, applied knowledge gained, and learned to work collaboratively. Two student research projects were completed as a result of this experience. One student investigated a new Pennsylvanian ammonoid species and its significance to the overall paleogeography of the region. The other studied Cisuralian ammonoid distribution patterns across Northern Pangaea linked to water temperature changes within the basin. Each of these projects led to multiple presentations including sectional GSA meetings, honor symposia, NCUR conference, and SRU faculty/student research symposium. Both students demonstrated a high level of professionalism with increased knowledge gained and have continued on into graduate programs. The transformational nature of the undergraduate research experience helps move students from studying a subject to becoming an active participant leading to one of the most powerful educational experience students can have.