GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 189-10
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


WAIAN, Jonathon M. and BAREKET-SHAVIT, Kallee, Earth & Planetary Sciences, University of California Santa Cruz, 1156 High St, Santa Cruz, CA 95064

The purpose of this study is to analyze the role of undergraduate mentoring in field geology courses. Introductory field geology courses provide students with a foundation of knowledge in structural geology, geomorphology, sedimentology, and many other topics within the framework of field geology. This concentrated learning is augmented with time spent in the field. Field geology courses often include undergraduate mentors, in addition to the primary professor and graduate teaching assistants, to provide additional aid to students. Undergraduate mentors are students who have successfully completed the introductory field geology course and are able to mentor both in the classroom and in the field. This study addresses whether undergraduate mentors have a singular impact on the success of a field geology course or the learning progress of students. Survey data was collected midway and at the end of an introductory field geology course at the University of California at Santa Cruz to determine how students assess the value of undergraduate mentors to their academic progress in the course. The background and unique perspective of undergraduate mentors is also used to determine the role and impact of their position in the classroom environment and in the field. Based on this study, undergraduate mentors provide a valuable peer-to-peer relationship that bridges a formal divide between students and the professor or graduate teaching assistants. Undergraduate mentors increase the teaching staff to student ratio, which provides students with more opportunity for guided learning. Undergraduate mentors develop key skills in aiding students resolve complicated issues in their field research, primarily through the Socratic method. This study indicates that field geology courses are highly augmented by the involvement of undergraduate mentors.