Using the UFERN Model for Studying Undergraduate Field Experiences

Date: November 19, 2021 at 9 AM PST (12 PM EST)

Integrating research on undergraduate field experiences (UFEs) and general STEM education and the expertise of the UFERN community, the UFERN Model describes the impact of intended student outcomesstudent context factors (e.g., identity, motivation) and program design factors (e.g., setting, social interactions) on UFE student outcomes. The UFERN Model is relevant for a diversity of UFE formats (e.g., short field labs to months-long research experiences) and disciplines and the diverse students potentially engaged in them, and thus it supports the field science community to consider a range of ways students can engage with “the field.”  During this community conversation, we will give a short overview presentation of the UFERN Model, and facilitate an open discussion about how the UFERN Model can be used for research.  All are welcome to join the conversation, however, we will especially tailor our presentation and discussion to social scientists.   We encourage you to read the pre-print of the article that recently got accepted in Bioscience.

Register for this talk>>

Community College Students in the Field: Successful Programs and Strategies

Date: October 15, 2021 12 PM PST (3 PM EST)

An estimated 4.5 million students — around 40% of U.S. undergraduates — attend community colleges. Yet degree completion and transfer rates for community college students are low, especially in STEM fields. Given the broad and well-established benefits of field experiences, how might they be more widely deployed for community college students? This conversation will feature instructors who have created successful opportunities for community college students to learn in field environments, often with a research component. Find out what has worked, what has been challenging, and what can be incorporated in your class, program or institution.

New UFERN Publications!


We wanted to share two articles that came out of our 2021 UFERN Network meeting. Please see the link below to read the full articles. Congratulations to the authors for their work!

Affective Learning Outcomes in the Field: A Review of the 2021 Undergraduate Field Experiences Research Network Meeting


by: Emily Geraphty Ward, Kari Bisbee O’Connell, Alexandra Race, Ahinya Alwin, Ajisha Alwin, Karina Cortijo-Robles, David Esparza, Alison Jolley, Andrew McDevitt, Manisha Patel, Luanna B. Prevost, Stephanie Shaulskiy, Xoco Anna Shinbro, Kira Treibergs, Michael Alvaro, and William Sea

Click to read full article>>

Crafting Field Station and Marine Lab Communities for Undergraduate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

by: Susan K. Flowers, Kari O’Connell, and Victoria M. McDermott

Click to read full article>>

Navigating the return to in-person Undergraduate Field Experiences and COVID concerns and policies

August 16th at 10 AM PST

Worried about how you’re going to run a successful field class with all the COVID-19 restrictions and concerns this fall? Join us for a discussion about navigating the return to in-person undergraduate field experiences in the midst of continuing COVID-19 concerns and policy revisions. This conversation will focus on how faculty, instructors, and program coordinators can still achieve learning objectives while adhering to local policies and guidelines. Come equipped with links to your own university’s policies if possible. This is the second UFERN Community Conversation. Ryan Petterson from Stanford University will host the conversation. He will share a brief example from his own experience to get the conversation started. Please bring your own examples and questions to share

Click for more info>>

How to get to know your students: supporting student-centered undergraduate field experiences

August 10th at 10 AM PST

Students’ experiences in undergraduate field experiences, and ultimately, the outcomes they attain, are shaped by who they are, why they participate, what they’ve done before, what they know, what they feel and are able to do, and their individual needs and constraints. Student-centered, responsive pedagogy and inclusive program design require understanding students in all these dimensions. Join us for some examples of how faculty, instructors, and program coordinators are getting to know students and using this information for the design and implementation of student-centered inclusive undergraduate field experiences. This first UFERN Community Conversation will feature three panelists: Fred Abbott from the Ecological Society of America, Andrew McDevitt from the University of Colorado Denver, and Kira Treibergs from Cornell University. They will share brief examples from their own experience. Their short presentations will be followed by a facilitated conversation.

Click here for more info>>

Upcoming Presentations

Hello UFERN Network,

We wanted to share some upcoming UFERN related presentations we think you might be interested in:

SABER Meeting 

Research Experiences – Field Work

How do field experiences in the natural sciences affect undergraduate outcomes? Xoco A Shinbrot, Kira Treibergs, Lina M Arcila-Hernandez, David Esparza, and Kate Ghezzi-Kopel will be giving a talk at the upcoming SABER meeting about the results from a scoping review on this topic. Their talk will take place on Friday, July 30th from 2:30 – 2:50 EDT.

The meeting will also have a whole section of talks on field courses taking place in the same session (that runs from 2:30 – 5pm EDT), click below to see the full schedule.

Click here for full schedule>>

ESA Annual Meeting

Expanding the Field in Fieldwork: Connecting the Practice of Fieldwork with the Human Dimensions of the 4DEE Framework

This organized oral session is being facilitated by UFERN members and will take place on Wednesday, August 4th from 1:30 – 2:30 PM PST.

Inspire 4: Building Belonging in Ecology: Networks as Connectors; Networks as Disruptors

Join this Inspire Session to hear about how belonging in a network inspires research about how students’ sense of belonging impacts science learning in field courses. The talk will be given by Kari O’Connell (STEM Research Center, Oregon State University), Stephanie Shaulskiy (University of Michigan Biological Station), and Alison Jolley (Centre for Tertiary Teaching and Learning, University of Waikato). The recorded talk will be available on the ESA meeting event page and a discussion with all presenters will take place on Monday, August 2 from 2:30 – 3:30 PM PST

Click here for ESA meeting details>>

2021 UFERN Network Meeting

The 2021 Annual Network meeting took place virtually on March 1st, 2nd, and 5th. 126 people attended at least one of the sessions, our largest meeting yet! Session topics included the future of UFERN, virtual field learning experiences, interdisciplinary research related to affective outcomes of undergraduate field experiences, invited panel discussion “What is the Field is and Who is in It?”, and workshops related to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access (DEIA) in undergraduate field experiences. In a post-meeting survey, participants reported that they found the interdisciplinary networking and collaboration valuable and appreciated the inclusive atmosphere and genuine focus on DEIA.

If you would like to get involved in UFERN please sign up for our listserv.

Many helpful resources were shared during the UFERN Network Meeting, including presentations, articles, and other resources suggested by participants. They are available here.

Special thanks go out to all the UFERN members who helped make the meeting a big success, especially the volunteer organizing committee: Itchung Cheung, Susan Flowers, Paul Foster, and Alexandra Race.

Invitation to participate in UFERN Framework Initiative

You are invited to join a cross-disciplinary learning community of 15 undergraduate field educators interested in designing inclusive student-centered Undergraduate Field Experiences (UFEs). In this group, we will explore how to apply the recently-developed UFERN Framework to design, implement, and assess student-centered Undergraduate Field Experiences (UFEs). 

Selected undergraduate field educators will:

  • Participate in a professional learning community focused on using the newly developed UFERN Framework in program design, implementation and assessment.
  • Participate and fully engage in six hours of synchronous virtual workshops and asynchronous informal discussions between January 25th and April 2021, and two additional follow-up sessions in the summer and fall of 2021. First meeting is January 27th, 10 -11:30 pacific (1 – 2:30 eastern). 
  • Use the UFERN Framework to guide the planning of new or revised program elements in their UFE.
  • Implement their modified UFE in the spring or summer of 2021 and reflect on the implementation and student experience.
  • Reflect and share about their experiences with the UFERN Framework to support effective use of the UFERN Framework in future efforts.

To support time and effort, participants will receive a $1,000 stipend for meeting the expectations listed above.

To apply, please complete the short application found HERE. We will start reviewing applications on January 6th, 2021 and make final notifications about selections by January 11th. We invite applications from faculty and program directors teaching and guiding a range of disciplines and UFE formats (e.g., Undergraduate Research Experiences, residential field courses, campus-based field courses).

The goals of the UFERN Framework Initiative are to:

  1. Support a small group of field educators in intentional design, implementation and assessment of student-centered undergraduate field experiences in a range of field learning contexts.
  2. Develop effective strategies for supporting undergraduate field educators in using the UFERN Framework as an aid for designing, implementing, and assessing student-centered Undergraduate Field Experience programs. 
  3. Assemble vignettes featuring applications of the UFERN Framework in a range of program contexts.
  4. Expand the community of field educators interested in designing, implementing, and assessing student-centered undergraduate field learning experiences.

The UFERN Framework initiative is supplemental funding for Award No. 1730756 RCN-UBE Building capacity for evidence-based undergraduate field experiences. Visit our website for more information about UFERN. Please direct any questions to Kelly.hoke@oegonstate.edu and Kari.oconnell@oregonstate.edu.

UFERN Network Meeting: Save the Date

Image of roads

Meeting theme: Envisioning the Future of Undergraduate Field Education
Meeting goal: To advance research and practice of undergraduate field education through interdisciplinary collaborations
Dates: March 1-5*
*half-day sessions on March 1, 2, and 5 with networking opportunities in between

We will be inviting lightning talks and workshop proposals from the community. Stay tuned for more details!