Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM
LOW-BUDGET FIELD TRIP FOR PROMOTING QUANTITATIVE UNDERSTANDING OF THE HYDROLOGIC CYCLE IN AN INTRODUCTORY EARTH SCIENCE COURSE
A walking field trip with accompanying guidebook of campus grounds was created to help students in an introductory earth science course develop a quantitative understanding of the hydrologic cycle. Valencia College contains a diverse student body with a wide-range of academic backgrounds and learning styles. The field trip was created to enhance learning of the hydrologic cycle beyond the classroom. The campus contains numerous hydrologic features, such as a small stream and adjacent wetlands, retention ponds, and several irrigation wells. The field trip highlights these features and includes hands-on activities such as using a sling psychrometer for humidity measurements and measuring soil infiltration rates. Equipment was fabricated or purchased for less than $200. The trip can be run in an hour, well within the allotted classroom time. The effectiveness of the field trip was determined by administering a voluntary, anonymous survey to students in the two sections of the Summer 2011 semester, and by administering pre-trip and post-trip quizzes to students in the four sections of the Fall 2011 semester. Survey results indicate most students (89 – 96 percent) felt their understanding of the hydrologic cycle and local water-resources issues improved as a result of the field trip. A total of 85 percent of the students felts their critical thinking skills improved as a result of the field trip. The results of the pre-trip and post-trip quizzes are consistent with the survey results. The median difference in scores between the two quizzes was 7 percent—one student’s score improved 12 points on the 15-point quiz. Nearly 60 percent of the students had some improvement in scores probably as a result of the field trip. Hence, the walking field trip is an effective method for teaching students the hydrologic cycle.