AWARENESS, ENGAGEMENT, AND PROFESSIONAL PREPARATION: INTEGRATING PLACE-BASED LEVELED FIELD COURSES INTO A HOLISTIC PROGRAM RE-DESIGN
Specifically, this project introduced three leveled, non-field-camp, field courses for first-and-second-year students, third-year students, and fourth-year students. This integration of “low-stakes” field courses well before they were expected to perform in a traditional “field camp” provided ample opportunity to allow students with limited outdoor experience to become familiar with how to think in the field. Inside the classroom, two new courses were introduced in the curriculum as required seminars that focused in the first/second year on familiarizing students with the breadth of the disciplines as well as introducing them to the range of opportunities and research on campus. The third/fourth year seminar was focused on career-oriented topics, public presentations, job interviews, and resume/cv writing.
These combined opportunities allowed faculty to interact closely with students outside the classroom at many stages of their progress and then help students begin the process of research work on campus. The ability to have students who may not know how, to find a prescribed pathway to begin their own research projects was the final piece of the puzzle that provided an additional sense of agency and self-advocacy. Collectively, these three components of programmatic re-design dramatically improved student recruitment, retention, and matriculation.