Arizona Geological Society

Content Learning Outcomes from Geological Virtual Field Trips can Exceed those from In-person Field Trips

  • 01 Nov 2022
  • 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
  • ZOOM: - Passcode: AGS-2022


(depends on selected options)

Base fee:

Arizona Geological Society

Speaker Series -2022

Tom Ruberto, Ph.D. Candidate

Arizona State University School of Earth

and Space Exploration

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Time - 6:30 PM MST (PT) (zoom event opens at 6:15 PM)


Passcode  AGS-2022

Abstract:  Field learning is fundamental in geoscience, but cost, accessibility, and other constraints limit equal access. As technological advances afford ever more immersive and student-centered virtual field experiences, they are likely to have a growing role across geoscience education to students in fully online degree and hybrid programs, or students experiencing disruptions to in-person learning, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A recent mixed-methods study compared learning outcomes of paired in-person (ipFT) and virtual (iVFT) geoscience field trips to Grand Canyon National Park, highlighting the Great Unconformity. In the ipFT, students collectively explored the Canyon through the interpretive Trail of Time along the Canyon rim, guided by the course instructor. In the iVFT, students individually explored the Canyon and studied its geology at river level. 360° spherical images anchor the iVFTs and serve as a framework for programmed overlays that enable active learning and allow for adaptive feedback.

Regression analysis showed the iVFT to be associated with significantly greater learning gains. Overall, our results provide clear evidence that high-quality iVFTs can lead to better learning gains than ipFTs. Although field trips are employed for more than just content learning, this finding may encourage greater use of iVFTs in coursework.

Bio: Tom Ruberto is a PhD candidate at Arizona State University studying the effectiveness of place-based geoscience virtual field trips as a learning modality, as well as their impacts to sense of place for those who consume and produce these digital learning experiences. A lifelong technologist, Tom has extensive experience in immersive, interactive content acquisition and production. Interested in helping others understand the promise and peril of the Anthropocene, Tom plans on teaching students and educators the process of virtual field trip production for learners of all ages.

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