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 outcomes, student 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.

Meet the panelists:

Dr. Ward grew up in Columbus, Montana, before heading west to Whitman College to earn her bachelor’s degree in Geology.  She went on to complete her Master’s degree in Geology at Washington State University and her Ph.D. in Geology at the University of Montana.  Ward accepted a two-year postdoctoral research position at Michigan State University where she worked on projects related to geocognition and geoscience education research before she started her faculty position at Rocky Mountain College.

Dr. Ward is interested in how places and cultures influence the way people learn about and interpret the physical landscape. Her work looks at the design and assessment of place-based geoscience interventions and course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs). Student research projects include investigating rockfall hazards, analyzing fracture networks in folded terrain, and mapping local bedrock geology.

Dr. O’Connell is a Senior Researcher and Program Lead of Authentic and Field-Based Learning at the Oregon State University STEM Research Center. Before coming to the STEM Research Center, she worked in the College of Forestry at OSU in multiple capacities, first as a Postdoctoral Research Associate studying long-term forest carbon dynamics, next as Director of the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest where she coordinated the research and education programs, and then with a staff position in Forestry and Natural Resources Extension which focused on professional development for middle and high school teachers. Kari’s research interests include access, and inclusion in undergraduate field education, collaborative STEM education networks, public engagement in science, and ecological data literacy of K-12 teachers and students. Kari has a Ph.D. in Forestry with a minor in soils from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.A. degree in Biology from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN.

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