Social Learning Theories—An Important Design Consideration for Geoscience Fieldwork

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Articles and Special Issues
Streule, M. J., & Craig, L. E. (2016). Social Learning Theories—An Important Design Consideration for Geoscience Fieldwork. Journal of Geoscience Education, 64(2), 101-107. DOI: 10.5408/15-119.1
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The nature of field trips in geoscience lends them to the application of social learning theories for three key reasons. First, they provide opportunity for meaningful practical experience and promote effective learning afforded by no other educational vehicle in the subject. Second, they are integral for students creating a strong but changing sense of identity from student, to geoscience student, to practicing professional geoscientist. Third, they help students to develop and build their own communities of practice within the field trips akin to the professional communities of practice they may be expected to contribute to, and pursue inbound trajectories into, in the future. Furthermore field trips encourage students to actively engage and initiate trajectories within the wider disciplinary geological community of practice. The building and effectiveness of communities of practice are important because the nature of geoscience as an integrative subject lends itself to relying on such communities. Therefore, the designers of field-trip programs should be aware of this social learning theory and ensure that working within communities of practice is integral to the activities they design. In so doing, we will produce graduates in the subject that will serve the requirements of industry and academia alike, in addition to other graduate careers. Students that most successfully participate in field trips are characterized by independence in their learning and increasing self-efficacy.


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