Mulling it over: Valuing reflection and cohort-centred learning in virtual fieldclass design

Mulling it over: Valuing reflection and cohort-centred learning in virtual fieldclass design

Learning Enhancement & Academic Development Service
Date: Tuesday 01 February 2022
Time: 12:00 - 13:00
Venue: Online via Zoom
Category: Academic events
Speaker: Dr Hannah Mathers, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences

We present a model for an inclusive and active virtual geoscience field class with approaches and considerations applicable to other disciplines. Field classes are core and highly valued components of many (geo)science courses providing a unique immersive identity- and skills-forming experience with vocational applicability (Streule and Craig, 2016). Following the cancellation of University of Glasgow residential field classes a replacement virtual course was designed to emulate the investigation of glacial features and development of field skills on the Isle of Mull. Delivery of data, lectures and resources was based through Moodle (our virtual learning environment) and utilised a suite of digital learning and online tools (Zoom, Microsoft Stream, Digimap, Google Earth, Gigapan, Visible Geology and triplot in Microsoft Excel). Student classwork was centred around group-based projects using collaborative platforms (Zoom break out rooms, OneDrive, Padlet and Microsoft Teams) and encouraging investigative learning and critical thinking. Reflection and feedback were a prominent component of the field class integrated through two student reflective assessments, colleague feedback, observation and feed forward and the receptiveness to student feed-in throughout the fieldclass. Student feedback indicates that the opportunity to reflect was a valued facet of the field class and increased confidence in personal efficacy and motivation to engage with the class and context to achieve personal goals. The success of the field class is discussed through three perspectives: course designer, colleague observer and student participants. Practical discipline-spanning strategies are offered for: engaging students remotely, maximising accessibility, fostering collaboration and confidence building and creating class community.  


Struele, M.J. and Craig, L.E (2016) Social Learning Theories – An important design consideration for geoscience fieldwork. Journal of Geoscience Education. 64, 101-107.

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