HISTORICAL CONTEXT AND EVALUATION OF ENGAGEMENT IN TECHNOLOGY-BASED APPROACHES TO ACCESSIBLE GEOSCIENCE FIELD LEARNING
Over the past two years, an NSF funded GEOPATH project focused on developing alternative field methods for students with disabilities. Students of mixed physical abilities completed field learning assignments by collaborating with more physically able students in a variety of technology-based formats. During two week-long field trips, the potential for several alternative field learning formats to provide academic and social engagement was examined through observations, video analysis, and survey. In the first year of the GEOPATH project, a week-long field study in northern Arizona tested a number of approaches to inclusive field work ranging from fully accessible locations where students of all physical abilities used apps to collect and share data, to an approach where less physically able students used intermittent digital communication with students in the field to virtually explore the landscape. In the second year, a field study in western Ireland examined technology-centered approaches designed to provide participants with limited mobility a more active role in data collection and other field activities. One exercise allowed team members to collect data in more or less accessible areas within the same field site and combine their data at the end of the day to construct a digital geologic map; another approach employed a fully a remote collaboration method where students at a stationary base camp communicated in real time with team members in the field to participate in data collection and interpretation. A comparison of student engagement across the various approaches used during the project will be presented, and the findings discussed within the context of the literature.