In-person field education through exploration is fundamental in geoscience, but equal access is limited by time, cost, safety, distance, physical ability, and instructor variability. Technology advances allow students to explore pedagogically rich but inaccessible places through virtual field trips (VFTs). Studies show that VFTs result in significant learning gains and are an effective learning modality. Most research has focused on instructor-generated VFTs disseminated through a top-down model, whereas technological innovations are making user-generated VFTs more practical. This longitudinal, mixed-methods study decentralized the production of VFTs by teaching students and educators to build their own VFTs for place-based education via the proposed Virtual Field Trip Production Process for Place-Based Education. Students and educators produced seven place-based VFTs reviewed by subject-matter experts that are currently being used as digital learning experiences in high school and college settings. Place-based education (PBE) traditionally occurs in actual places, while VFTs convey an actual place virtually and can share the same learning objectives as their in-person counterparts. Sense of place, the combination of meanings and attachments an individual or group ascribes to a given place, is a measurable learning outcome of PBE with cognitive, affective, and behavioral components. Participants were administered the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS), Place Attachment Inventory (PAI), and Young’s Place Meaning Survey (YPMS). Regression analysis showed statistically significant increases in positive affect (PA) and statistically significant decreases in negative affect (NA) as well as statistically significant gains in sense of place and content knowledge. In both geology and PBE, drawing is an important tool for learning, teaching, and assessing. Current VFT software environments do not allow users to digitally draw within the platform. This study examined differences in learning outcomes and final grades between students submitting mechanical versus digital drawings, geologic maps, and concept sketches. Regression analysis of the drawing, geologic map, and concept sketch exercises revealed no statistically significant differences between mechanical and digital drawing modalities in both learning outcomes and final grades. Geoscience educators can confidently allow students to submit digital drawings while software programmers and learning designers should consider adding this capability to their VFT platforms.
- Decentralization of Virtual Field Trip Production: A Proposed Framework for Producing Virtual Field Trips for Place-Based Education and How the Production Process Impacts Sense of Place and Content Knowledge Gains
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