GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 19-4
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM


RADEMACHER, Laura, Geological and Environmental Sciences, University of the Pacific, 3601 Pacific Ave, Stockton, CA 95211-0110, BURMEISTER, Kurtis, Geology Department, California State University, Sacramento, 6000 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95819, RYKER, Katherine, School of the Earth, Ocean & Environment, University of South Carolina, 701 Sumter Street, EWS 617, Columbia, SC 29208-0001, ATCHISON, Christopher, School of Education and Department of Geology, University of Cincinnati, 600E TDC, Cincinnati, OH 45221, EGGER, Anne, Geological Sciences, Central Washington University, 400 E University Way, Ellensburg, WA 98926-7418, SHIPLEY, Thomas F., Department of Psychology, Temple University, 1701 N 13th St, Philadelphia, PA 19122 and TIKOFF, Basil, Geoscience, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1215 W Dayton St, Madison, WI 53706-1600

Field-based capstone courses provide geoscience majors with culminating experiences that integrate and apply knowledge and experiences during the transition from undergraduate coursework into professional careers. When the COVID pandemic forced field-based capstone courses to transition to online and digital alternatives, the goecience community responded by developing a collection of new, computer-based virtual experiences designed to simulate learning that typically occurs in the field. More than 350 geoscientists collaborated in this effort through a series of online meetings, working groups, and curriculum development workshops. Countless faculty and students used materials generated during this effort in 2020 and 2021. This growing collection of teaching materials contains >70 activities and is freely available on the NAGT Teach the Earth website. Many of these digital modules are also being integrated into a new generation of hybrid capstones as part of efforts to better align traditional field-based curricula with the evolving needs of employers. Indeed, many instructors report greater comfort with utilizing online materials and are continuing to implement these strategies and activities to enhance student opportunities.

One key result of this effort is a new set of community-derived universal learning outcomes designed to guide both online and in person capstone experiences. These outcomes help ensure that – regardless of format – students receive the training required to prepare them for geoscience careers. Indeed, student participants in online capstones in summer 2020 reported an increase in self identification as a geoscientist based on pre- and post-surveys. These results suggest that students successfully build professional skills and confidence in virtual capstones. Additionally, the pedagogical materials and strategies developed during the pandemic provide new opportunities for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion through fostering greater acceptance of online and virtual alternatives to field-based capstones, reducing novelty space and helping students balance cognitive loads through online pre-work, and broadening the accessibility of these capstone experiences to students who were formerly excluded.