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The undergraduate geoscience fieldwork experience: Influencing factors and implications for learning

By
Alison Stokes
Alison Stokes
Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) Experiential Learning in Environmental and Natural Sciences, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, PL4 8AA, UK
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Alan P. Boyle
Alan P. Boyle
Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Liverpool, L69 3GP, UK
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Published:
December 2009

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.

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Contents

GSA Special Papers

Field Geology Education: Historical Perspectives and Modern Approaches

Edited by
Steven J. Whitmeyer
Steven J. Whitmeyer
Department of Geology and Environmental Science, James Madison University, USA
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David W. Mogk
David W. Mogk
Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University, USA
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Eric J. Pyle
Eric J. Pyle
Department of Geology and Environmental Science, James Madison University, USA
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Geological Society of America
Volume
461
ISBN print:
9780813724614
Publication date:
2009

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