08 Oct 2021
08 Oct 2021
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal GC.

Learning outcomes, learning support and cohort cohesion on a virtual field trip: an analysis of student and staff perceptions

Clare E. Bond, Jessica H. Pugsley, Lauren Kedar, Sarah R. Ledingham, Marianna Z. Skupinska, Tomasz K. Gluzinski, and Megan L. Boath Clare E. Bond et al.
  • School of Geoscience, University of Aberdeen, Kings College, Aberdeen, AB24 3UE, UK

Abstract. The rise of the virtual field trip was unprecedent in 2020 and 2021 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual field trips aim to replicate the learning outcomes and experiences of actual field trips, by providing a digital alternative to in-field courses. They provide valuable opportunities for those unable to visit the field and alternative learning experiences for those that can. However, understanding their efficacy in term of learning outcomes, the effectiveness of learning support offered, and cohort cohesion generally remains untested. Here we show how negative aspects of a virtual field trip both pre- and post-course are countered by positive outcomes in terms of breadth of learning outcomes and experience. As part of our analysis, we tested methods to mitigate barriers to inclusion and learning on a virtual field trip including internet connectivity and hardware access, use of printed workbooks, and limitations to interaction, support and cohort cohesion. Our results show that although negative perceptions, as evidenced through questionnaire responses, are dominant, with 71 %–88 % of respondents commenting on these aspects across both student and staff cohorts pre- and post-course; positive aspects of virtual field trips (43 %–57 %) also feature highly. Students show a positive shift in their perception of online teaching and learning over the course with positive comments moving from 19 % pre-course to 71 % post-course, whereas positive comments by staff are low pre- and post-course at 14 %. Printed workbooks, staff: student ratios and interaction are received positively. Overall, we find that negative perceptions of virtual field trips pre- and post-course exist, but that both students and staff identify positive elements including breadth of learning outcomes, particularly regarding data synthesis and analysis. We suggest ways to learn from these findings to design virtual field trips that deliver effectively in blended learning environments for the benefit of all.

Clare E. Bond et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on gc-2021-36', Anonymous Referee #1, 10 Nov 2021
    • AC4: 'Reply on RC1', Clare Bond, 31 May 2022
  • CC1: 'Comment on gc-2021-36', Solmaz Mohadjer, 17 Feb 2022
    • AC5: 'Reply on CC1', Clare Bond, 07 Jun 2022

Clare E. Bond et al.

Clare E. Bond et al.


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Short summary
Virtual field trips have been used to engage students unable to go in the field with geological field work. Here we investigate the perceptions of staff and students before and after a virtual field trip; including investigating the success of mitigation measures designed to decrease barriers to engagement and inclusion. We conclude that negative and positive perceptions exist and that effective mitigations can be used to improve the student experience.