GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 230-2
Presentation Time: 2:00 PM


JOLLEY, Alison, Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, University of British Columbia, 2020-2207 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada and WATSON, Alexander, Geological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, WA 8140, New Zealand

Field learning experiences transcend the geoscience content, developing skills in time management and planning, fostering geoscientific identities and motivating student engagement. Field courses often require partner or group work and place students in shared living quarters with peers and instructors, building teamwork skills, facilitating social interactions and breaking down social barriers. However, the field environment is also heavily demanding and presents high stakes for academic success. Students may be in unfamiliar localities, novel living situations and isolated from their traditional support systems, creating the potential for considerable anxiety.

This study explores the role of rest days in helping students to recognize and address their own individual social needs for wellbeing in the field. Data was collected during the first one-week module of a six-week study abroad field camp for American students (n=16) in New Zealand. Students were interviewed about their perceptions of rest pre- and post-module rest day. In addition to this, students completed a post-module rest day survey on their preferences for rest. Preliminary findings suggest that students expect about one day per week of rest on extended length field trips, and recognize that rest time supports both physical and mental health. 38% of the students felt that travel time between field sites was not restful, primarily because they do not feel they have agency over what they do and who they spend time with. Some students described rest days as important for spending time alone and connecting with support systems away from the field location. Others indicated that rest was important for getting to know peers on the field trip and building meaningful relationships. The relationship of these findings to self-determination theory, occupational balance and liminality will be explored, offering potential frameworks within which to consider field learning experiences. Recommendations for supporting social wellbeing in the field include: recognition of the importance of genuine rest, an awareness of differing personalities and social needs, and providing structures for reflecting upon social need fulfillment.

  • Jolley and Watson_2019_Student Strategies for Social Wellbeing_Final.pdf (1.6 MB)