Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 8:15 AM
ENGAGING UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS THROUGH MULTIDISCIPLINARY INTERNATIONAL FIELD EXPERIENCES: A CASE STUDY OF SRU's BAHAMAS PROGRAM
Field experiences are a unique aspect of undergraduate research that cannot be duplicated in the classroom. Slippery Rock University’s Department of Geography, Geology and the Environment has developed an eight day international field experience in San Salvador, Bahamas. The program consists of two faculty and twelve to fifteen students. Students come from a variety of majors and academic standing. Through this field experience students are introduced to multidisciplinary research in cultural and physical geography, oceanography, paleontology, and geology. In most cases students participate in the field experience as part of a full semester course. Students are actively engaged in a variety of daily field exercises as well as faculty and student-faculty research projects. Our pedagogic approach links Socratic methods in the field with discussions of research design, techniques and implementation. All students produce daily reports, and in many cases, they collect data for class or independent research projects. This paper will summarize pedagogic insights gained from nine consecutive years of offering the program. We will highlight our holistic approach that is used throughout the field experience and our perception of the benefits gained by students. We will also present analyses of the impacts of the program on department assessment goals, productivity in undergraduate research, and the impact of international experiences on student satisfaction with their college experience. Results of the longitudinal study suggest that students from the field experience cohort are more likely to present research at regional and national meetings. Field experience students demonstrate a higher rate of success on a range of metrics both in the current semester and in later classes.