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

Paper No. 244-7
Presentation Time: 3:00 PM


CALDWELL, Marianne O'Neal, Division of Mathematics and Sciences, Hillsborough Community College, 4001 Tampa Bay Blvd, Tampa, FL 33614, WANG, Ping, School of Geoscience, University of South Florida, 4202 East Fowler Ave, NES107, Tampa, FL 33620 and DAVIS, Denise, Department of Geology, University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Avenue, SCA 528, Tampa, FL 33620

Geology is a field-based science but logistical factors including cost of travel, distance to field sites, scheduling issues, and accommodations of students with disabilities may limit accessibility to field sites. With improving technologies, virtual field trips may provide an alternative method of field studies. Two virtual coastal field trips along Florida’s coastlines funded by NSF were developed and are currently available online. An introductory-level field trip provides an overview of the geology and scientific methods in coastal research. An upper-level undergraduate sedimentary geology field trip goes further in-depth into sedimentary analyses and coastal research. The virtual field trips include multiple modules with interactive questions that are scored upon completion of each module. Each of the virtual field trips have been tested by the authors in their classes at the University of South Florida and Hillsborough Community College. This study evaluates the concept of making field trips virtual and tests their learning effectiveness. A pre-test and post-test to measure student knowledge was administered to all classes. A self-efficacy survey was given to all students to gather data on student characteristics and demographics. After completing the virtual field trip students were given the opportunity to write free responses.

Three years of assessment data have been collected and analyzed. Students in the upper-level sedimentary geology class were divided into three groups. One group participated in a live field trip to the same locations as the virtual field trip, another other group took the virtual trip online, and one group participated in both. Preliminary results showed an improvement in the post-test for all three upper-level groups. There is no significant difference on the post-test by students in each of the different groups. For the introductory course the virtual field trip was additional class material. Students were divided by their delivery method, online or face-to-face. Both groups participated in the virtual field trip. Higher scores on the post-test versus the pre-test was noted in both groups. Student comments on the survey have been overwhelming positive especially from students taking the introductory trip.