The Advantages of Field Work
Peer-driven fieldwork transformed student to investigators by challenging them to be responsible for the success of the entire group. Fellow investigators were responsible for managing a detailed field notebook, sampling, planning routes, level logger maintenance, x-ray diffractometer analysis interpretation, and constantly troubleshooting. Mentorship from and challenges proposed by the USU faculty further built on this scaffolding of field experience.
First hand fieldwork provides a battery of beneficial skills that many undergraduate geology students, at the two-year college level, rarely participate in. The advantage of including two-year college students allows for dynamic research from an untapped resource. The East Los Angeles College (ELAC) Geology Club, a student-run club at an inner city community college, facilitated data collection from gryphons and mudpots in the Salton Trough. Students tested temperature, pH, electrical conductivity, and total dissolved solids in the field. This collaborative effort is symbiotic as sharing responsibilities allowed USU to save funds and provided ELAC with the opportunity to participate in research. The collaboration allowed all students to gain confidence in new sampling skills, and collaborate in an ongoing study. By sharing the opportunity to conduct fieldwork more students are able to engage in the learning process and contribute to scientific discovery.