Session: Vital Connections in Ecology: Mentoring, Education, and Training
Identifying factors that contribute to positive and negative student experiences at field-based institutions
Wednesday, August 4, 2021
Link To Share This Presentation: https://cdmcd.co/A9PXLZ
Danielle M. Becker, Biological Sciences, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI, Jessica E. Griffin, Biology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA; Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA and Cassandra M.L. Miller, Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
Jessica E. Griffin
Biology, San Diego State University San Diego, CA, USA
Background/Question/Methods Field stations and marine laboratories offer a unique window to monitoring and understanding biological processes and changing ecosystems across the globe. Field-based institutions are a valuable resource that present numerous opportunities for the transformation of scientific discovery into education, public engagement, and policy. Despite their unparalleled impact on scientific discovery, they also pose particular challenges to researchers, including their often remote locations, limited resources, and constrained communications, which can create unwelcoming work environments. These challenges can be of particular concern for students, who are often on the receiving end of power imbalances, which may have long-lasting effects on their career trajectories. The purpose of this study was to identify factors that contribute to positive and negative student experiences at field-based institutions. Through the use of a mixed-methods survey, we collected data on the respondents’ best and worst experiences at field-based institutions, whether these experiences affected later career decisions, as well as the respondents’ demographic information, current career stage, and career stage at time of experiences described. Findings from our survey provide a foundation for developing a list of recommendations to promote equity and increase student retention at field-based institutions. Results/Conclusions Respondents (n = >250) completed an online survey that asked a series of ranked and open-ended questions pertaining to participants’ experiences as former or current students at field-based institutions. Our survey highlighted the complexities of the student experience working at field-based institutions and the associated challenges and benefits that are innate to these working environments. This study will reveal the situations students encounter at field-based institutions, providing critical information for directors, universities, and larger institutions to better support student success at field-based institutions. Our work contributes to the growing body of knowledge underscoring the need for inclusive scientific environments that foster equitable spaces, allow creativity to flourish and promote student success. Our work will be published in a book, Women of the Wild, a product of an NSF working group focusing on the experiences of women and other traditionally excluded groups in field-based settings.