UFERN Network Meeting: Save the Date

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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!

Live from the Field: Nutrient Cycling in Grasslands

Are you looking for virtual teaching materials to give your students field experiences during the 2020-2021 school year?

Bring your class to “Live from the Field: Nutrient Cycling in Grasslands” on November 9th to meet researchers from around the world.

The Virtual Field project, a coalition of 50+ field stations and marine laboratories around the globe, is creating teaching materials and events to bring the field to your students through this portal: thevirtualfield.org. Materials and events are free and come with instructor guides and recommended assignments. Concepts focus on human-environment interactions and are applicable to a wide range of disciplines.

Virtual Field Teaching Materials

In May, a coalition of 50+ FSMLs received an NSF RAPID grant to create a suite of virtual teaching materials and events that provide opportunities for university students to engage virtually with field stations and marine labs during the pandemic. Now, the first round of virtual field teaching materials (attached flyer) is available. We thank the efforts of so many people have made this possible.
The attached flyer provides links to Ecosystem Exploration videos and the accompanying instructors guide, registration and information for upcoming and recorded Live from the Field events, and videography support for instructors who want to create their own video. The first Live from the Field event for the fall is just around the corner on September 23rd, and we encourage you and your students to register.

Download the flyer here

New Publications!

Check out the following recent UFERN publications:

UFERN has been busy this month! Check out all of the newly published papers below:

The Undergraduate learning in the field: Designing experiences, assessing outcomes, and exploring future opportunities article addresses results from the Landscape Study conducted in 2018 to better understand the diversity of program types as well as the value and impact of undergraduate field experiences for students.

UFERN also published Promoting a Sense of Place Virtually: A Review of the ESA Weekly Water Cooler Chat Focused on Virtual Sense of Place, a review of an Ecological Society of America Water Cooler Chat that UFERN co-hosted. The chat focused on ways to help students develop a virtual sense of place in an undergraduate field course that has been moved online. 

The Promoting inclusion in ecological field experiences: Examining and overcoming barriers to a professional rite of passage explores some benefits and barriers presented by field learning experiences as well as some challenges and potential strategies to broaden inclusivity in field experiences.

ESA Education Workshops before the meeting!

Join ESA on July 20th for the ESA Four-Dimensional Ecology Education Extravaganza: A day of workshops to energize your Ecology teaching. Join for one or all three workshops.

11:30-12:30 EDT Syllabus workshop: Aligning Your Teaching with the 4DEE Framework.
1-2:30 EDT Lesson workshop: 12th REEFS: Resources for Ecology Education, Fair and Share
3-430 EDT Assessment
workshop: Assess What’s Important: Creating 4DEE Aligned Assessments That Show How Students Use Their Ecological Knowledge

There is no fee for participating.  Please register for one or more of the workshops here

ESA Education Section Paper Award
The ESA Education Paper Award is back!  ESA will offer an award (monetary – $100) for the best recently published paper on ecology education.  They encourage submissions that use the 4DEE Framework, but any education focused paper is welcome.  The goal is to highlight new ideas that enhance the teaching of ecology.  Papers will be reviewed by the officers of the Education Section and the Award announced at the Annual Meeting.  Please submit by July 17, 2020 to https://forms.gle/kceccz9S3hE6xXF37

Elections for the next chair of the ESA Education Section!
ESA is asking for people to volunteer to serve the Education Section as Chair-Elect for the year starting after the annual meeting in August 2020.  The Chair-Elect becomes the Chair the following year and serves as the Past-Chair the year after that.  If you are interested in serving, write a couple of sentences about yourself and send them to doherty2@uw.edu.  Electronic ballots will be sent to the section membership shortly after July 17. Officers should plan to attend the annual meeting in 2021 (ESA does note reimburse officers for attending).  If you have questions please contact Jennifer Doherty, doherty2@uw.edu (Chair) or Tracy Gartner, tgartner@carthage.edu (Chair-Elect). 

ESA Virtual Annual Meeting
The annual meeting will be virtual August 3-6.

New Project! The Virtual Field: A Mitigation Strategy for the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing massive disruptions in higher education. Faculty across disciplines are struggling to quickly transition to virtual classrooms. Nowhere has this been more difficult than in the field sciences, where first-hand experience with the complexity of the natural world is essential for applying classroom learning to authentic settings, developing deep content knowledge and skills, and fostering identity as a field scientist.

Supported by a National Science Foundation RAPID-grant (NSF # 2031815), a team of 50 field stations in 26 states and 6 countries has launched the “Virtual Field Project” this summer to:

  1. Create ecosystem exploration videos to teach students to find and observe evidence of key ecological concepts.
  2. Host live-streaming cross-site events with researchers to discuss the process of field research with students.
  3. Share existing virtual materials and events with faculty at universities across the U.S. produced by a variety of organizations. A virtual field portal will act as a signpost, catalog, and calendar for faculty, students and community.
  4. Evaluate the efficacy of virtual field materials to set the stage for further cross-site virtual field learning initiatives

The project emerged from a grassroots effort by the Organization of Biological Field Stations, and is led by Claudia Luke Center for Environmental Inquiry at Sonoma State University, along with Hilary Swain at Archbold Biological Station, and Kari O’Connell of the STEM Research Center at Oregon State University. Through Kari O’Connell’s leadership, UFERN is an important partner on the project.

The Virtual Field Project will continue far beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Multi-site field courses are out-of-reach for many faculty and undergraduates due to logistics, cost and administrative barriers. Field trips created and shared by the Virtual Field Project will give students experience with a diversity of ecosystems around the world, encourage participation by a broader diversity of university courses, and expand opportunities for students with disabilities. The project will also contribute to a vision for effective and meaningful field learning at Field Stations and Marine Labs that includes both virtual and in-person learning strategies. The project is highly collaborative and is seeking to share approaches, resources and ideas with field sites, institutions and initiatives interested in enhancing research, education and connection to the earth. Contact: Claudia Luke, Director, Center for Environmental Inquiry, Sonoma State University lukec@sonoma.edu for more information and to get involved.

Opportunity to Pilot Virtual Field Learning Resources

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the urgent need for ecology and environmental science instructors and faculty to offer virtual field learning, 50+ field stations and marine laboratories are working together with RAPID funding from NSF to create cross-site virtual field experiences that help instructors teach field observation and research skills to university students.

UFERN is partnering on this effort. 

We are seeking six to ten faculty/instructors who are teaching virtually this summer to help pilot two cross-site virtual field learning resources:

1.    Cross-site ecosystem exploration videos that help students develop observational skills. Students watch 3-min videos comparing multiple marine, terrestrial and freshwater habitats and take field notes comparing species relationships, adaptations, habitat structure, formative processes and human-environment interactions.  

2.    A live-streaming event with researchers at 3 field sites talking with students about multi-disciplinary approaches to field research.

 The time obligation is:

  •  talk with us (15 min)
  • view six 3-min ecosystem videos and provide feedback (1 hour)
  • assign students to use virtual resources during your summer course:  
    • self-directed exercise to discover similarities and differences among habitats (1-hour student assignment)
    • field research-in-practice live streaming event with researchers at 3 field sites (1.5-hour student assignment) 
  • give feedback on the educational value of assignments (30 min)  

Your involvement will contribute to the development of meaningful virtual field learning resources available to you and field educators across the country as well as help develop a broader vision of learning opportunities at field stations and marine labs for the future. We thank your for your consideration of our request! If you are interested to help pilot these virtual field learning resources, please contact: Claudia Luke, Director Center for Environmental Inquiry, Sonoma State University. Deadline to express interest is June 10th, 2020.

ESA’s Weekly Water Cooler Chat

Join us today for ESA’s Weekly Water Cooler Chat
Last week, we talked about virtual field trips — this week, we’re on to assessing online learning. How will it differ from what you’ve done before? In what ways are your assessments the same? How do your assessments reflect meaningful and inclusive pedagogical practices? Join this week’s Water Cooler Chat host, Kaitlin Stack Whitney, Rochester Institute of Technology, ESA Education Scholar, and Peer Mentor of ESA’s current Data Access (Inclusive Pedagogy) Spring Faculty Mentoring Network for engaging conversation with your favorite beverage as your plan for finals.
Friday, April 10, 4:00 PM ET

Virtually Field Tripping – What Works?

We had a record-breaking 221 people tune in to our webinar on virtual field trips on April 9th! If you were unable to attend but are still interested, check out the recording of the webinar here to listen to Drs. Ben Kennedy and Jonathan Davidson speak about virtual field trips.