Session: Network Connections: Deepening and Expanding Access to Virtual Field Experiences
Live from the field: Introducing students to field research through cross-site conversations
Thursday, August 5, 2021
Link To Share This Presentation: https://cdmcd.co/q9YaPb
Kerry Wininger, Center For Environmental Inquiry, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, CA, Hilary Swain, Archbold Biological Station, Venus, FL and Kari O'Connell, STEM Research Center, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Center For Environmental Inquiry, Sonoma State University Rohnert Park, California, United States
Background/Question/Methods In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Organization of Biological Field Stations launched “The Virtual Field,” (http://thevirtualfield.org) a collaboration of over 50 field stations and marine laboratories in 26 states and six countries working together to create skill-building experiences that mimic high-impact educational field experiences. With funding from an NSF-RAPID grant, The Virtual Field developed a series of resources, including “Live from the Field” events that focus on emulating the informal interactions between students and researchers that happen in the field. Specific objectives are to demonstrate approaches and nonlinearity of the research process across disciplines and sites, expand preconceptions about scientists, and identify opportunities for students to get involved in the process of scientific inquiry in the field. Each event begins with short videos filmed by three researchers working at field sites across the globe that address one broad scientific theme. This is followed by a casual Q&A with students from multiple classes across the continent and globe that explores cross-site commonalities and differences. An Instructor Guide is provided with pre-reading on the event theme, publications about each research project, and recommendations on how to use “Live from the Field” events in the classroom. Results/Conclusions Impacts of “Live from the Field” events have potential to extend far beyond the pandemic. To date, events have highlighted 24 research projects on eight topics ranging from fire, to harmful algal blooms, to nutrient cycling, to remote sensing of biodiversity. This format can be used to create fieldtrip-like experiences on a variety of topics for students previously unable to participate by accommodating large classes, minimizing impacts of restricted funding, overcoming physical or socioeconomic barriers, and reducing travel time and perceived risks. Initial evaluation data show positive outcomes for both students and instructors. 88% of students said the “Live from the Field” event was extremely or very effective at illuminating how research was conducted. Instructors unanimously agreed that this experience provided a window into the process of scientific inquiry as a field scientist, and showed a variety of approaches to conducting field research. Recommendations for future events were also collected, and are being implemented with future offerings, such as expounding on each researcher’s personal career story. We will discuss how to engage students in upcoming or recorded events, supplementary materials available, evaluations we’ve received from students and faculty from our first four events, and how to create and share events yourself with the materials we’ve prepared.