GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 108-1
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


IANNO, Adam J. and JOHANESEN, Katharine, Geology Department, Juniata College, 1700 Moore St., HUNTINGDON, PA 16652-2110

Our department has implemented a new field experience course to promote exposure and engagement with a diverse range of geologic settings. In the first two years of this class, field trips have included a 15-day driving tour of Maine and a 10-day trip to Aruba. Next year’s trip will feature Montana. Students take a 3-credit class during the spring semester and then embark on the trip after the semester’s end. The course is offered at the 100-level and has only introductory geology as a prerequisite, so students of all levels take the class. The class is repeatable and does not fulfill any requirement for the major or for general education.

Instruction was designed to be student-centered: the professors choose the overall location, but the students have input on every other aspect of the trip: code of conduct, itinerary, schedule, and designing the field trip guide. Most of the semester is spent researching and writing a field trip guide- teams of 2-3 students each compose a chapter. The group works together on multiple rounds of editing. At mid-semester, each team presents their findings so far to the class.

Students who participated in this class showed enthusiasm for exploring new environments, confidence in their ability to apply their geology knowledge in a new setting, and appreciation for the work and research required to develop a sophisticated field guide. Challenges include balancing instruction and coaching for students at multiple levels and encouraging an inclusive social atmosphere. While our initial two trips were largely exploratory, we plan to focus the research component on future trips: students will design and carry out a group research project in the field area, and the field guide research will be focused on background and development of that project.