404-3 Using Immersive Education Abroad Experiences to Communicate the Role of Soil Education in Addressing Global Challenges.
Poster Number 1937
This poster focuses on the opportunities and challenges of integrating soil education into a semester-long education abroad program – Parks and People (South Africa) and some of the teaching and evaluation tools used to teach soils to non-soil majors. This 10-week spring education abroad program immerses students into the culture, ecology and livelihoods of South Africa as it relates to the management of natural resources. Students are exposed to the complex solutions that are necessary for conservation strategies to co-exist with local livelihood structures. The goal of the program is to facilitate immersive learning and to create a space to facilitate team work and problem solving.
The spring 2013 students traveled through multiple biomes in South Africa (e.g. Fynbos, Karoo) learning about the unique role that soils play in defining each biome. The students were from seven different non-soil majors and were taught via roadside lectures, group discussions, one-on-one discussions with instructors, and hands-on experiences. Multiple assessment tools were used to evaluate student learning e.g. direct assessment of conceptual knowledge using system models. Students were also assessed on their ability to synthesize knowledge for projects targeting multiple audiences (e.g. proposals, magazine articles). Overall, while this approach was well-received by students and effective for learning “on the go”; there were some challenges with faculty and students adapting to this non-traditional learning environment.