North-Central Section - 57th Annual Meeting - 2023

Paper No. 10-5
Presentation Time: 2:50 PM


MATTOX, Tari, Department of Physical Sciences, Grand Rapids Community College, 143 Bostwick Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

The goal of a recent sabbatical project was to respond to the current and future needs of 2YC geoscience students by working on an innovative and flexible curriculum delivery method that supports their educational journey. The project rested on the fact that remote learning is not going away, remote learning increases access and flexibility for 2YC students, and active learning improves student performance. In the past, field trips and field-based courses are how geoscience programs engaged students in active learning and generated interest in the discipline. However, field activities are not accessible to everyone and this may also be the reason the geosciences are the least diverse of all STEM fields. A Hawai`i-based virtual field trip (VFT) that focused on geologic and cultural content was designed to increase participation and performance and serve a broader population of 2YC geoscience students. The VFT incorporated different ways of knowing into the curriculum in the hopes of connecting a diversity of students to the material. It is important to seek indigenous knowledge about the geologic features students are exploring, myths can have their roots in first-hand accounts of natural phenomena and often exhibit deep scientific reasoning. For example, in Hawaiian oli (chant), the observed age progression of the Hawaiian Islands is the result of Pele’s, the goddess of fire, search for a home while chased southeast down the island chain by her sister Nāmakaokahaʻi, the goddess of the sea. Exit surveys of introductory geology students who participated in the Hawai’i VFT suggest that most felt they learned a lot and enjoyed the experience. Students also took a pre- and post-VFT quiz to assess proficiency with the VFT’s learning outcomes. The results show only a modest rise in student proficiency post-VFT; however, the only question that showed a depth of knowledge in student’s answers was about indigenous stewardship of the land. This and the anecdotal feedback from students, both positive and negative, suggests indigenous knowledge can provide a rich and important perspective that connects the cultural and geologic heritage in the landscapes we explore and engages students.