PEER COMMUNICATION AND INSTRUCTION AS AN EDUCATIONAL TOOL AT THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY FIELD CAMP
In summer 2015, the final scaffolded mapping exercise was re-envisioned as a comprehensive geologic field report with a component of field-based peer communication and instruction. Students were organized into 3-person mapping teams and assigned to one of two areas that were geologically and logistically comparable.
After 5 days of mapping, students produced professional maps and cross-sections and wrote a field report containing a section in which they intentionally reflected on the quality of their geologic map and on their contributions to their mapping team. In addition, students were peer instructors in the field for a day. Each team was paired with a team that had not mapped in their area. Each group spent half a day explaining the geology of their area to the other group while in the field.
This activity maximized our learning objectives for this project. In addition to our typical objectives of geologic mapping, field camp instructors wanted students to: 1. enhance their communication skills in a simulated professional setting, 2. construct coherent arguments and support these arguments with sound field evidence, and 3. objectively critique other geologic interpretations and perspectives. The peer-teaching activity was assessed with a well-defined rubric by field camp instructors assigned to each group.
Along with qualitative reflections in their field reports, the students answered 14 Likert-type questions designed to gauge student perception of experiential learning. Survey results are overwhelmingly positive: 82% felt that they learned valuable mapping skills during the final project; 82% thought that they would remember their final field area in the future in more detail than others; 73% felt that the experience of sharing their map area with peers improved their own level of understanding of their field area; 73% were more proud of the maps that they created for this final project than the maps for previous projects; 64% both found their peers to be effective instructors and enjoyed being the instructor.