EFFECT OF A FIELD EXPERIENCE ON THE CONCEPTUAL KNOWLEDGE AND ATTITUDES OF STUDENTS IN AN UNDERGRADUATE INTRODUCTORY GEOLOGY COURSE
To assess the effect of the field trip on the student’s attitude toward geoscience and their understanding of fundamental geoscience concepts, we administered a pre- and post-trip survey consisting of 22 multiple-choice questions and a few free-response questions. Of these 22 questions, 10 assessed geoscience attitudes and 12 assessed conceptual understanding. Paired t-tests were performed for the multiple-choice questions. Overall, there was a highly significant gain in the student’s conceptual understanding, t(143)=3.27, p<0.01. The topics that showed the greatest gains in understanding, t(11)=2.55-3.1, p<0.05, were related to the local geology, field techniques, and geologic time. Interestingly, there was no significant change (p<0.05) in the student’s attitude regarding the geosciences after the trip. This result may simply reflect the pre-trip enthusiasm of the students. The free-response questions from the pre-trip survey revealed that the students were most interested in learning about the local geology; from the post-trip surveys, the students remarked that the field trip allowed them to better visualize (and touch) the concepts that were taught in class. This study demonstrates that even a short, local field trip produces measurable gains in a student’s understanding of geoscience concepts.