The evaluation of field course experiences: A framework for development, improvement, and reporting
Eric J. Pyle, 2009. "The evaluation of field course experiences: A framework for development, improvement, and reporting", Field Geology Education: Historical Perspectives and Modern Approaches, Steven J. Whitmeyer, David W. Mogk, Eric J. Pyle
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There is little argument that field course experiences are both complex and unique in the range of learning experiences provided to students. Conversely, they offer logistical and cost challenges that might cause one to question whether they provide a sufficient cost-benefit ratio to warrant continuation, particularly in a climate where resources have become scarce. In such a climate, it is important to have on hand rigorous data that support assertions of learning effectiveness. Many of the data supporting the evaluation of field course experiences can come from an analysis of assessments of student performance relative to course goals, but these data alone may not provide sufficient support. A close examination of faculty actions relative to student learning outcomes, as well as a research-based analysis of course curricula designed to best support student learning, can provide two additional sources of data. When used in concert with student assessment data, evaluative success can be triangulated. A consistent set of tools in this evaluative framework also provides information on specific areas for maximizing student learning. This chapter outlines such a set of tools, using a specific field course experience that is in transition as a model. Pilot data collected within the existing field course experience structure are discussed in a manner that informs the development of performance assessments, instructional actions, and curricular organization. Using data derived from these sources, evaluations of field course experiences can be used to better articulate the cost-benefit ratio in terms of student learning in the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains.