CONSIDERING PLACE AS A MEANS TO LINK DISCRETE EXPOSURES WITHIN ROADSIDE GEOLOGY FIELD TRIPS
Undergraduate students from the United States (n=25) on a six-week geology field camp in New Zealand were surveyed on their attachment with two of the field places in which they learned. The first module was a “situated” mapping experience with dominantly self-directed travel on foot. Students were assessed on a cumulative map, cross-section, and stratigraphic column. The second module was a “roadside geology” experience involving discrete field locations separated by considerable vehicle travel, and directed by instructors. Students were assessed on a number of separate activities, ranging from rock descriptions to constructing paleo-topographic models. Interviews were conducted with five students per module and all instructors (n=6), in order to address values of field education, perceptions of the module and its purpose, and sense of place in that particular field environment.
Results show greater attachment with the situated landscape and no change in attachment with the roadside landscape. The former allowed autonomous exploration of the field area and required group decisions, independent of instructors. Interviews showed that students appreciated the landscape and their autonomy within it, and felt satisfied with the completion of a cumulative assessment. The students’ experience was consistent with what the instructors intended. In contrast, interviews on the roadside module showed that students were often spatially disoriented and found it difficult to connect the discrete geologic sites together. The students report that the small, independent assessments further hindered these connections. However, instructors described unifying goals and structure for this module.
Integrating the concept of place may be a way to link discrete roadside exposure geology trips, presenting a framework and a purpose that allows students to be spatially and geologically connected with their environment and therefore, engaged with their assessment and experience.