Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM
CALDERAS, ARCHES AND STUDENT SUCCESS: THE PEAKS AND POTHOLES OF IMPLEMENTING A FIELD COURSE AT A TWO-YEAR COLLEGE
Geology faculty at Monroe Community College, a large two-year institution in western New York State, developed an annual introductory field course in 2011 to foster deeper student engagement and conceptual learning. Implementation of this new course required extensive collaboration with the curriculum department as well as coordination of complex travel logistics for multiple field sites during each individual field class. Course materials were created for both the lecture and field components, focusing specifically on the dominant processes shaping the varied geologic settings. Eight to ten weeks prior to the 10-day field component, students attended weekly classes and were assessed through quizzes, laboratory assignments and exams. Assessment in the field was based primarily on the quality of field notebooks and group and/or independent projects. Visualizing regional scale features and understanding their formation over geologic time was challenging in the field setting. However, based upon student reflections and assessment, these challenges were minor when compared to the skills developed, including the ability to apply classroom-based knowledge, integrate multiple geologic concepts and make deeper interpersonal connections. Despite higher costs than traditional courses, the class has been conducted three times at field locations in the Yellowstone region of Wyoming, the Grand Canyon, and southern Utah. These offerings have increased awareness of geology on the Monroe Community College campus and have contributed to over 60% of the student participants continuing their education at four-year colleges in geology or related fields.