Ocean Clevette ’22 Studies Increasing Accessibility to Introductory Geology Courses
Ocean Clevette ’22 is an Environmental Geology and Education and Youth Studies Major working with thesis advisors Sue Swanson and Jay Zambito. She studies increasing accessibility to introductory geology courses using virtual field experiences.
In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, educators and schools all around the world were forced to adapt their curriculum and teaching practices to accommodate students in remote locations through online instruction. These accommodations addressed not only concerns about safety surrounding COVID-19, but also other ongoing accessibility issues within the field, such as travel constraints and creating equitable experiences for students with mobility impairments. Research on innovative uses of technology resources has shown that online and alternative field experiences can be useful tools to address these issues. Informed by this research, an existing glacial geology exercise used in introductory geology courses at Beloit College was enhanced to accommodate a wider range of students. The existing physical field trip was supplemented with an interactive Google Earth tour, as well as annotated photo and video guides. These data were used to compile a collection of best practices for accessibility to field experiences and incorporating virtual learning opportunities. These best practices, that balance field experiences and accessibility efforts, are being used to create an additional exercise about local sedimentary geology that focuses on building field skills of observation at the landscape, outcrop, and hand sample scales.