Session: Expanding the Field in Fieldwork: Connecting the Practice of Fieldwork with the Human Dimensions of the 4DEE Framework
Incorporating identity, place, and culture into a virtual REU experience: The research experience for undergraduates on sustainable land and water resources in summer 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic
Wednesday, August 4, 2021
Link To Share This Presentation: https://cdmcd.co/B79wmg
Diana Dalbotten, St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, University of Minnesota, MN, Emily Geraghty Ward, Rocky Mountain College, MT, Nievita Bueno Watts, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA and Antony Berthelote, Salish Kootenai College, MT
St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, University of Minnesota, MN, USA
Background/Question/Methods Like most NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs, the REU on Sustainable Land and Water Resources (REU SLAWR) had to choose between a virtual experience in summer 2020, or cancellation of the program due to the Covid19 pandemic. The REU SLAWR was restructured into a modular online program designed to meet the same program goals that have shaped the REU SLAWR over the past 11 years. Using program evaluations from 2011-2019, the authors will compare the results from 2020 to build knowledge on how the REU experience in 2020 was differently structured to meet the need for a virtual program, the impact this had on participant and mentor outcomes, and what can be learned for future REU programs. This provides valuable information for creating accessibility to the REU experience. The REU usually takes place at three locations (Salish Kootenai College, MT and at the Univ. of Minnesota in Mpls. and Duluth, MN). The program is focused on tribally-focused Community-based Participatory Research (CBPR), and is a place-based REU. The REU SLAWR has always incorporated a virtual experience designed to create cross-team socialization, community-building, and widen participants’ interest and knowledge about projects incorporating tribal CBPR.
Results/Conclusions Summer 2020 immersed students, mentors, and tribal partners in a virtual learning environment. In order to continue our focus on home and local environment students were given GoPro cameras and GIS units and encouraged to record their home places and share them with others in the program via ArcGIS Story Mapping. A focus of the REU SLAWR has been to increase participants’ abilities to work on diverse teams. Without access to the field sites, projects were fundamentally different than previous years, with many focusing on using pre-existing data. While there were negative impacts in some aspects of building research skills (i.e., little exposure to field or lab work), other aspects (i.e., computational modeling, communicating science) showed gains. Going virtual made it possible for many students to participate and expanded the number of students in the program. Many of the projects were also more directed towards the human component of CBPR. For example, in Minnesota the student projects focused on wild rice, and many of the projects included lengthy interviews with tribal partners. In Montana, the focus of one project became effectively communicating science to tribal members. The authors explore both the limits and possibilities inherent in virtual collaboration in research for undergraduate students.