Field Education Pedagogy and Assessment
Fieldwork has always been a crucial component of undergraduate geoscience degrees, yet our understanding of the learning processes that operate in a field environment is limited. Learning is a complex process, and there is increasing interest in the role played in this process by the affective domain, in particular, the link between affect (emotion and attitude) and cognition (understanding). This study investigates the impact of residential geoscience fieldwork on students’ affective responses (e.g., feelings, attitudes, motivations), and their subsequent learning outcomes. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected from 62 students from a single UK university undertaking a 9 d geologic mapping-training field course. Pre–field class positive affects became strengthened, while negative feelings and attitudes were ameliorated as a result of the fieldwork. However, some aspects of the students’ experience generated new negative responses, while extracurricular social and cultural activities generated unexpectedly positive responses. In terms of outcomes, the fieldwork enabled students to develop generic as well as subject-specific skills, e.g., teamwork, decision making, and autonomy, while engagement in social interactions both within and outside of the field environment enabled students to develop valuable interpersonal skills. Such skills are seldom assessed as learning outcomes, but they are an important part of students’ development from novice to expert geoscientists, and a vital component of the wider competences required by employers and society.