GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 221-3
Presentation Time: 2:05 PM


CARABAJAL, Ivan G., Department of Geology, University of Cincinnati, 500 Geology-Physics Building, P.O. Box 210013, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0013 and ATCHISON, Christopher L., School of Education and Department of Geology, University of Cincinnati, 511E Teachers College, P.O. Box 210002, Cincinnati, OH 45221,

Students with disabilities remain under-represented in geoscience departments in part because field trips and courses are not typically designed with accessibility in mind. Field experiences often present barriers to physical and social participation for students with mobile and sensory disabilities (SWD). Geoscience organizations have called for more inclusive approaches in geoscience education but have left departments to independently develop inclusive field curricula with little insight or instruction. In order to encourage geoscience departments to develop inclusive practices, we must first understand what is currently being done to promote accessible field experiences.

This presentation reports on the preliminary findings from an ongoing study which aims to understand how geoscience departments at colleges and universities are supporting SWD in field-based learning experiences. Data has been collected from 160 2-year and 4-year geology departments at institutions across the United States. Survey respondents provided information including practices used by their respective departments when attempting to provide adequate field experiences for SWD and department confidence in assessing field site accessibility. Initial results show that although a majority of geoscience departments attempt to provide in-field learning experiences or field-alternatives for students with permanent and/or temporary disabilities, few departments are confident in their ability to assess field site accessibility. Perhaps if more geoscience departments were familiar with assessing field-site accessibility, more departments would offer inclusive field-trips that provide SWD equal field experiences when compared to their “traditionally-abled” peers.