The 84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2015)

Field Courses for Non-Majors


Department of Biology, Oklahoma City University

March 28, 2015 , Archview Ballroom Add to calendar

Engaging students in general education science courses presents many challenges. Often, students enrolled in these courses are focused only on meeting graduation requirements and may not have any interest in the subject itself. Here I share two case studies of field-based general education science courses which increased student engagement and contributed to the students leaving the course with a more positive view of science. Through descriptions of the courses and comments made by the students enrolled, I demonstrate how specific characteristics of these field-based courses increased student engagement through their use of inquiry-based learning, the formation of a learning community via travel, the use of independent work requiring self-determination and high expectations from the instructor. These are all variables that previous research has found to be essential to motivation in general education courses. Through this preliminary descriptive work on which further research will be based, I present a first demonstration of the possible usefulness of field courses in a general education program, and some lessons for other educators who may want to develop field courses for non-science majors.