GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 221-9
Presentation Time: 4:00 PM


ATCHISON, Christopher L., School of Education and Department of Geology, University of Cincinnati, 511E Teachers College, P.O. Box 210002, Cincinnati, OH 45221, WHITMEYER, Steven J., Geology & Environmental Science, James Madison University, 395 S. HIgh St, MSC 6903, Harrisonburg, VA 22807, PIATEK, Jennifer L., Department of Geological Sciences, Central Connecticut State University, 1615 Stanley St, New Britain, CT 06050, MARSHALL, Anita M., School of Geosciences, University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Ave., NES 107, Tampa, FL 33620, CARABAJAL, Ivan G., Department of Geology, University of Cincinnati, 500 Geology-Physics Building, P.O. Box 210013, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0013, PYLE, Eric J., Department of Geology & Environmental Science, James Madison University, MSC 6903, Harrisonburg, VA 22807, DE PAOR, Declan, Dept. of Physics, Old Dominion University, OCNPS Bldg., Room 306, 4600 Elkhorn Ave, Norfolk, VA 23529 and ERIKSSON, Susan C., Eriksson Associates LLC, 3980 Broadway, Suite 103 #168, Boulder, CO 80304,

The importance of field studies in geoscience education has been abundantly demonstrated through decades of research on geoscience field trips, workshops, and courses. However, several factors suggest that traditional approaches to geoscience instruction do not provide equitable opportunity across the broad spectrum of student backgrounds and physical abilities. Underlying assumptions suggest that physical and sensory abilities are prerequisites to traditional geoscience field study. Specifically, prior initiatives that have focused on enhancing field access for all students have highlighted the fact that traditional methods of field education are likely discouraging the participation of students whose physical abilities do not fit the stereotype of a practicing geoscientist.

Our GEOPATH project “Engaging Students in Inclusive Geoscience Field Experiences via Onsite-Remote Partnerships” is working to promote an alternative philosophy to this physical prerequisite to study in the field. We present an inclusively-designed instructional method that focuses on the abilities of students as they perform authentic field investigations and research through mixed-ability pairing. This project engages students in collaborative field exercises by using the latest cloud-based and mobile technologies that enables real-time communication and data collection by students separated by physical barriers in the field environment. Our approach embodies elements of constructionism along with the new connectivist theory of learning in the digital age.

A preliminary outcome from the first year of this project reaffirms that inclusively-designed field instruction creates more deliberate exploration and application of content for all students. By including everyone’s diverse perspectives and abilities, students are free to focus on the science and participate in a community of learning void of the social barriers of bias and stereotype. This presentation will discuss the project’s initial findings, including the value of using internet-based technology use in the field; the multiple perspectives of personal mobility; the impact of mixed-ability grouping; and the importance of daily reflection during field instruction.