2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 183-11
Presentation Time: 10:50 AM


CAULKINS, Joshua L., Department of Geosciences, University of Rhode Island, 9 Greenhouse Road, Tyler Hall, Kingston, RI 02881, HICKEY, Kenneth A., Mineral Deposit Research Unit, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, SCOATES, James S., Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, University of British Columbia, Pacific Centre for Isotopic and Geochemical Research, 2020, Earth Sciences Building, 2207 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T-1Z4, Canada and HARRIS, Sara E., Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada, caulkins@mail.uri.edu

The Oliver Field School, run by the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of British Columbia (UBC), has seen an evolution in instructional practices over the past several years with the specific goal of improving student learning outcomes and mapping abilities. In connection with the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative at UBC, the instructors leading the course worked closely with Science Teaching and Learning Fellows to collect data and implement pedagogical changes. The changes included the introduction of a pre-field school “Boot Camp” giving students the opportunity to regain proficiency in basic field skills, regular change-up of mapping pairs to encourage collaboration, progressive increases to student decision-making autonomy in the field, numerous opportunities for reflective practice and skill-building, and the adoption of a new field area more conducive to pair and group mapping. Data collected in early years of the project included pre-post content assessments, spatial-visual rotation diagnostic tests, student interviews, GPS tracking units, and expert-task analysis.

Preliminary examination of the field school grade data (overall course grade) indicate that student grades have shifted upward, most critically when comparing pre-treatment grades (2009 had no Boot Camp and limited pedagogical enhancements) and post-treatment grades (2010 to 2013). This result is constrained by the fact that the intent was not to complete a controlled study, but rather to ensure all students had equal chances to improve. Direct observations and anecdotal evidence reveal that students communicate more thoughtfully and regularly with each other and with instructors, pose more insightful questions, and are able to synthesize understanding and data onto higher-quality maps in terrain with more geologic variability than prior to 2009. Topics that continue to pose challenges for students, which will likely be the focus of future field school changes, include the use of spatial reasoning, 3-dimensional visualization in the field, and the completion of cross-sections and stratigraphic columns that represent appropriate geologic relationships. Overall, the project has been a clear success and we look forward to deeper analyses of the data.

  • UBC_Field_School_Talk_GSA2014.pdf (35.3 MB)