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

Date: August 10, 2021 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 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.

Meet the panelists:


Kira Treibergs

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, Cornell University

Kira is a marine invertebrate biologist and discipline-based education researcher who studies the roles individuals play within different types of collaborative systems. Her research seeks to better understand the mechanisms behind division of labor in colonial marine animals and cooperative learning among students in natural science courses.  She is intrigued by the transformative learning that can occur within field experiences and cares deeply about making field-oriented courses more inclusive to all students.  Kira has a PhD in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology from Harvard University, a MS in Biology from the University of Oregon, and is currently an Active Learning Initiative Postdoctoral Fellow at Cornell University.


Andrew McDevitt

PhD Candidate, University of Colorado

Andrew has a background managing several semester-long residential field programs at Harvard University and Juniata College where he leveraged his experience as wildlife biologist and a residential life coordinator. During these field programs, he lived on-site with students and helped them develop identity as scientific researchers, build connections with the local community, and navigate the challenges associated with living at remote biological field stations. Additionally, Andrew is a discipline-based education researcher who develops analytical tools to study active learning undergraduate STEM classrooms. He is a PhD candidate in Integrative and Systems Biology at the University of Colorado Denver and has a MS in Conservation Biology from Illinois State University.    


Fred Abbott

Diversity Programs Manager, Ecological Society of America

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, ecologist, educator, and outdoor enthusiast. Fred works with undergraduate students from all over the US to diversify and advance the ecology profession through opportunities that stimulate and nurture the interest of underrepresented students to participate and to lead in ecology.

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