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Concept Mapping Validates Fieldwork’s Capacity to Deepen Students’ Cognitive Linkages of Complex Processes

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Abstract

Concept maps created by introductory physical geography students were analyzed to assess the power of a field index in students learning concepts related to rock decay. Students (n = 571) were randomly selected from introductory physical geography laboratory session where 86% had never taken another college-level geography course, 46% had never taken a "lab science" course, and 22% were from minority (non-white) populations. All students, upon completing a straight-forward demographic survey and open-ended questionnaire, undertook a concept mapping exercise after learning about rock decay through direct instruction (i.e., lecture). From this n, 322 students also took part in a hands-on field-based experience involving analyses of tock decay associated with petroglyphs, and then completed another concept map. Concept maps scores indicate field experience participants understood form and process connections better after the field experience than after direct instruction, and especially minority, where the average score increase approached 23%, compared to 11% in non-minorities. Female students (16% average increase) also scored higher after the field experience compared to male students (11% average increase). Concept maps were compared to open-ended questionnaires to further establish validity, and after testing for normalcy with Kolmogorov-Smirnov, t-tests revealed all score increases to be highly statistically significant (p < 0.001), with minority student score increase compared to non-minority increases yielding a statistical significance (p = <0.01), while learning in females over males yielded a statistical trend (p = 0.067). These findings reveal fieldwork's power to deepened cognitive linkages between complex biophysical processes and the corresponding landscape forms, especially among minority and female students.
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... When it comes to the future of regional geography in terms of student engagement, however, the applicability still remains uncertain (Johnston et al., 2014;Wei, 2006). Centered on the regional geography concept, GbR allows students to grasp just what a region is, realizing that multiple phenomena go into the creation of a region, that the resolution of those features matter, and that each component affects the landscape differently (Allen, 2011a;MacLeod & Jones, 2001;Stern, 1992). Students participating in GbR also learn that regions can be distinct in size, shape, and transition, or not (Stern, 1992). ...
... Used for years in medical schools, concept mapping has slowly made its way into other disciplines, and has been used as an effective evaluative tool in geography (Allen, 2011a;Allen & Lukinbeal, 2011). At their core, concept maps represent a straightforward and efficient way to assess student knowledge (Novak & Gowin, 1984), allowing students to quickly encapsulate their thoughts into a representative framework of knowledge, while also allowing the instructor to evaluate the student's progress toward specific goals (Hoffman, Trott, & Neely, 2002). ...
... Scoring concept maps can be done a variety of ways (Edmondson, 2000;Novak, 1991Novak, , 1998Novak & Canas, 2008) and, having used a modified version based on Hsu and Hsieh (2005), West, Park, Pomeroy, and Sandoval (2002), and Stoddart, Abrams, Gasper, and Canaday (2000) in previous studies to demonstrate their efficacy, we employed the same strategy for the GbR program (see Allen, 2011a;Allen & Lukinbeal, 2011). This scoring technique assigns point values to the overarching concept, as well as each sub concept(s) and cross-links, to determine a final score. ...
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Based on William Morris Davis’ great Transcontinental Excursion of 1912, this article assesses and reviews the Geography by Rail® program (GbR) – a unique, short-term, field-based study abroad experience that takes an uncommon-in-the-US approach to international exploration and fieldwork, incorporating on-the-ground, regional geography-based learning experiences. Though it could be used as such, this is not intended as a “how-to” article, but instead, an examination of how the program’s alternative approach to short-term, field-based learning increases student engagement, enlivens the discipline of geography by championing the regional geography approach, and bridges the physical-human divide in geography. Examples are given of assessment techniques, relevant skills gained by student participants, student feedback received, and potential limitations of such a program. Our main goal rests in demonstrating that by being in the landscape, practicing in it, students often gain a perspective not achievable in the traditional classroom setting. In the regional and romantic geography sense, favoring breadth of learning over depth, we further argue that GbR represents a novel way to accomplish this important-yet-not-often-fostered and, oddly and unfortunately, difficult-to-find-in-geography concept.
... The long-term sustainability of rock art requires rapid, replicable analytical assessment techniques that are efficient and inexpensive, allowing for practical management planning. One approach that meets these goals is the Rock Art Stability Index (RASI; Dorn et al., 2008;Allen, 2011;Allen et al., 2011;Allen and Lukinbeal, 2010;Allen and Groom, 2013;Cerveny et al., 2016), which provides a quantitative evaluation of rock panel decay. ...
... Testing groups of trained college students demonstrates that the results for any given site are replicable between evaluators (Allen and Lukinbeal, 2010;Allen, 2011;Allen et al., 2011;Allen and Groom, 2013). A video presentation illustrating the RASI evaluation of engraved panels at Petrified Forest National Park can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/ ...
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The Rock Art Stability Index (RASI) is a rapid, quantitative approach to rock art condition assessment. Research carried out at Petrified Forest National Park, USA, demonstrates that, following a 2-day training session, site evaluators obtained replicable results, facilitating a condition assessment of over 3500 engraved panels. Two electron microscopy case studies allowed us to identify the specific rock decay processes and major causes of destruction on panels that were RASI-scored as in high threat, suggesting potential avenues for future conservation interventions. This approach illustrates a holistic strategy for rock art conservation.
... Those who have experienced it know: students learn concepts better by doing fieldwork rather than sitting in the classroom-and research certainly backs up this claim (Kent et al., 1997;Warburton and Higgitt, 1997;Hudak, 2003;Ellis and Rindfleisch, 2006;Fuller et al., 2006). Recent studies demonstrate the power of combining fieldwork with rock decay specifically, to deepen understanding of its complex forms and processes (Allen, 2008(Allen, , 2011Allen and Lukinbeal, 2011;; these studies also note gender, ethnicity, content interest level, and learning style as nonfactors when engaging students in fieldwork using rock decay as an interface. ...
... Building upon these premises in the past few years, up-and-coming undergraduate RDNs at University of Colorado Denver have studied rock decay locally, but also regionally and internationally in such locations as the Painted Desert, Grand Tetons, the Wasatch Front, London, Paris, and the Caribbean-making grander connections (Allen, 2011;Allen and Lukinbeal, 2011). If you are fortunate to have rock art, old buildings or even old cemeteries near your campus, visit this instructor's guide on how to teach about rock decay in introductory courses: http://alliance.la.asu.edu/rockart/NSF/RASI_InstructorsGuide.html. ...
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Researchers exploring rock decay hail from chemistry, engineering, geography, geology, paleoclimatology, soil science, and other disciplines and use laboratory, microscopic, theoretical, and field-based strategies. We illustrate here how the tradition of fieldwork forms the core knowledge of rock decay and continues to build on the classic research of Blackwelder, Bryan, Gilbert, Jutson, King, Linton, Twidale, and von Humboldt. While development of nonfield-based investigation has contributed substantially to our understanding of processes, the wide range of environments, stone types, and climatic variability encountered raises issues of temporal and spatial scales too complex to fit into attempts at universal modeling. Although nonfield methods are immensely useful for understanding overarching processes, they can miss subtle differences in factors that ultimately shape rock surfaces. We, therefore, illustrate here how the tradition of fieldwork continues today alongside laboratory and computer-based investigations and contributes to our understanding of rock decay processes. This includes the contribution of fieldwork to the learning process of undergraduates, the calculation of activation energies of plagioclase and olivine dissolution, the high Arctic, the discovery of a new global carbon sink, the influence of plant roots, an analysis of the need for protocols, tafoni development, stone monuments, and rock coatings. These compiled vignettes argue that, despite revolutionary advances in instrumentation, rock decay research must remain firmly footed in the field.
... Existen numerosos trabajos sobre propuestas de salidas de campo, sobre el supuesto potencial didáctico de las mismas en la Enseñanza de las Ciencias (Rickinson et al. 2004;Braund y Reiss 2006;Dillon et al. 2006;Behrendt y Franklin 2014) e incluso sobre su presencia en las publicaciones de investigación educativa (Amórtegui et al. 2016;Aguilera 2018). Sin embargo, no son tan abundantes los trabajos sobre cómo se aprende en ese tipo de prácticas, cómo se deben o pueden introducir estas actividades en la formación del profesorado o cómo este tipo de prácticas contribuyen a la reflexión sobre aspectos didácticos y/o al desarrollo de 2602-2 competencias profesionales, salvo contadas excepciones (Dickerson, Dawkins y Annetta 2007;Allen 2011;Brusi et al. 2011, Morag y Tal 2017. ...
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Los trabajos prácticos de campo en la formación inicial del profesorado de secundaria deberían incluir actividades que fuesen más allá de la propia realización de experiencias aplicables en un aula. El presente trabajo analiza las ideas declaradas por un grupo-clase de 16 estudiantes del Máster de Profesorado en diferentes momentos de un conjunto de actividades prácticas. En él, responden a cuestiones sobre la secuencia de actividades realizada y su posible transposición a un aula de secundaria, tanto de forma individual como en pequeños equipos, y analizan sus actuaciones durante la realización de una práctica de identificación de árboles y arbustos. El objetivo del trabajo es conocer si el vídeo-análisis de la actividad y su discusión posterior favorecen la evolución del Conocimiento Didáctico del Contenido sobre las actividades de campo. Los resultados muestran un cambio de las ideas de los estudiantes hacia modelos más acordes con lo que, desde la investigación en Didáctica de las Ciencias, se propone cuando se habla de los trabajos prácticos de campo.
... And many instructors in these disciplines include field experiences as integral pieces of their teaching. In two recent articles that analyzed fieldbased versus in-class performance of over 300 undergraduates, I demonstrated that fieldwork has a strong capacity for increasing both science and nonscience majors' abilities to learn complex concepts, with the added benefit of actively engaging minority and female students in science (Allen, 2011;Allen & Lukinbeal, 2011). ...
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A recent special section in Science addressed "Grand Challenges of Science Education" (Hines, Mer-vis, McCartney, & Wible, 2013). Yet aside from one article focused on sexual harassment, each author left out a powerful component in sci-ence pedagogy: fieldwork. Though not necessarily the crux of learning or pedagogy at the undergraduate level, fieldwork can, nonetheless, span the gamut of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disci-plines like biology, ecology, Earth sciences, engineering, and health sci-ences. And many instructors in these disciplines include field experiences as integral pieces of their teaching. In two recent articles that analyzed field-based versus in-class performance of over 300 undergraduates, I demon-strated that fieldwork has a strong ca-pacity for increasing both science and nonscience majors' abilities to learn complex concepts, with the added benefit of actively engaging minority and female students in science (Allen, 2011; Allen & Lukinbeal, 2011). Although grand field explora-tions certainly occurred in science's past (think Humboldt and Powell), fieldwork was often a way to validate (or not) and/or test hypotheses and laboratory-based models. In the 21st century, our grand discoveries now stretch beyond these early endeavors, encompassing deep ocean to deep space. We use amazing technology to conduct experiments like peering into the electromagnetic spectrum, mapping the human genome, studying mineralogy using scanning electron microscopy, and identifying new universes with powerful telescopes. These data and subsequent findings lead to astounding breakthroughs in science. So why, with all this technol-ogy at our fingertips, would we want to potentially put ourselves in harm's way by gathering data "in the field" and/or using it in our classrooms? In nearly every instance just listed, no matter the data's frequency, amount, or resolution, some sort of ground truthing occurred. This is as it should be, as a lack of ground truthing often results in errors and inaccuracies. Many a scientist has been caught in the midst of data misrepresentation, which could have been avoided by ground truthing. How much longer, for example, would the authorities have spent hypothesizing about potential causes and vectors during the London cholera outbreak had John Snow not went into the field and gathered data? What effect did that straightforward act of performing fieldwork have on London's—and the world's—health? In fact, the more I engage students in fieldwork, the more convinced I become that it remains a necessity for science teaching and learning. From a student perspective, based on my own classes and from swapping anecdotes with colleagues inside and outside my department, something changes when a student is actively engaged in fieldwork. They inevitably broaden their worldview, realize they can handle stressful situations, and gain valuable professional skills while si-multaneously enhancing their ability to understand their place—not just in science, but the world at large. Keeping students engaged and en-thusiastic when it comes to fieldwork, however, is not an easy task, especially when both time and money are in short supply. The economy is a shadow of what it used to be, and that includes funding agencies and monies available for fieldwork, whether part of a course or not. Similarly, with more demand on instructors to pursue research agendas, how is time made for fieldwork? When budget shortfalls occur, field trips are often the first cut from programs. But most students relish the chance to not be stuck in the classroom, and even a short field trip around campus can serve as a strong recruiting tool. As stellar instruc-tors know, teaching a subject increases retention and understanding of it, and few places offer the opportunity for stu-dents to teach—themselves, classmates, or even the instructor—than in the field. And the act of doing fieldwork implies going back to a site. While in the Ama-zon with a geomorphologist, pedologist, and botanist, for example, the philoso-pher Bruno Latour (1999, p. 74, italics in original) noticed that even as they were preparing to leave the field site, his colleagues were "also preparing to return." Serendipitously, they concluded it was necessary for an entomologist to accompany them next time so that they could pursue more in-depth research. They simply had to return. Social networks, formal or infor-mal, are inherent in fieldwork, and there is a continued voicing of the necessity to conduct inter/multi/trans-disciplinary research while, rather ironically, science seems to embrace reductionism. Still, more and more scientists from varying disciplines are realizing the important role these synthesis activities play in generat-ing workable solutions to some of
Chapter
For centuries, fieldwork has been geomorphology’s heart, entwined with observation and imagination, bound to its place in space by practitioners. Yet nowadays fieldwork often gets tossed along the wayside as a reason for holiday (or similar experience), especially when advanced GIScience and new laboratory applications/techniques are readily available. As this chapter outlines however, fieldwork—as a concept and endeavor—continues to enliven geomorphology as a discipline and should be incorporated into pedagogical strategies, lest it become forgotten. Fieldwork remains a valuable commodity in geomorphology, just as fieldwork practitioners remain important components of the discipline (and science more generally). Fieldwork helps verify data/hypotheses, enhances sense of place, generates excitement for the discipline in upcoming generations, functions as a bridge between/across disciplines, and helps challenge established paradigms. It should remain at the forefront of geomorphology.
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