Gold Open Access: This paper is published under the terms of the CC-BY-NC license.

Field work is an integral component of undergraduate geoscience education. Field areas for these crucial experiences are carefully selected, but how do these places affect our students? This study compares the field experience of students participating in two distinct modules of a study abroad field camp in New Zealand, through sense of place and perceptions of learning. The situated module was geological mapping based in a single site, whereas the roadside module was based on smaller exercises in multiple discrete sites. Survey findings indicate that students became significantly more attached to the situated field area, but had no significant change in their attachment to the roadside field area. Field observations and interview findings suggest that this may be due to student autonomy, the immersive landscape, and strong alignment of student perceptions of learning with instructor intentions on the situated field module. In contrast, the roadside module was more determined by the instructor, and student perceptions of learning did not align well with instructor intent in conveying a sense of the regional geologic history. We assimilate our field observations and student and instructor interview data into a schematic model of the two field trip styles. This model is then used to visualize an improved pedagogy to foster greater engagement with the landscape and geology in the roadside trip. We recommend that roadside field trips have explicit assessments that connect the field sites together. Our interview data suggest that this connection would be further enhanced with greater opportunities for student ownership of in-field decision making through student-centered learning, encouragement of a sense of exploration, and development of a student and instructor field learning community.