Deconstructing a Geology Field Trip to Reconstruct Around a Pedagogical Framework: A Case Study on the Integration of Cognitive Learning Theories and Learning Progressions.

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Erin Argyilan
Kristin Huysken
Robert Votaw


Field-based education is an integral component of undergraduate geoscience curricula and provides educational and social benefits associated with enhanced learning. But field excursions can too often end up as simple show-and-tell events and fall short of implementing effective teaching practices and achieving desired student learning gains. Moreover, logistical and economic pressures tend to discourage or impede the inclusion of field-based activities in undergraduate geoscience programs, especially in commuter-based colleges and universities. This case study shares how a one-day field trip offered at a commuter-based undergraduate campus of Indiana University was deconstructed to identify content-specific learning outcomes, and then reconstructed to a unit-based learning progression. The site-specific geologic content focused on describing and correlating outcrops of Paleozoic sedimentary strata in the Starved Rock area of Illinois. Shifting from a single-day field trip to a multi-session learning progression focused on instructional scaffolding and emphasized formative assessments that integrate cognitive learning theories including retrieval practice, elaboration, spaced practice and dual coding.  Common practices of field geologists such as creating sketches of outcrops (dual-coding) were purposefully integrated as meaningful activities with opportunities for peer mentoring and reflection. Restructuring to a three-week unit included pre- and post-trip assessments to enable instructors to identify and address knowledge gaps and facilitate self-driven learning opportunities for students.


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Argyilan, E., Huysken, K., & Votaw, R. (2024). Deconstructing a Geology Field Trip to Reconstruct Around a Pedagogical Framework: A Case Study on the Integration of Cognitive Learning Theories and Learning Progressions . Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 24(1).
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