We began our data collection in February 2022 with an interest survey that was sent to field education listservs. The short survey was aimed at faculty who teach or coordinate a residential field course(s) and are interested in participating in the study. From the course details provided, eight or more courses were selected to represent a range of course types, regions, and disciplines.
Students from the selected courses were asked to respond to a survey in Summer 2022 that explored their sense of belonging in the course, their institution, and the discipline, as well as various factors that are suggested in the literature to contribute to or interfere with a sense of belonging in the classroom and in the field sciences.
Student and Faculty Interviews
Students with a range of survey responses were recruited in Summer 2022 for an in-depth interview in about their experiences in the field courses and the context in which they feel they belong or don’t belong. We will also interview the faculty who teach these courses to better understand their classroom climate and the teaching practices they use. Insights generated from the student survey and student/faculty interviews will be used to create an initial framework that describes how students’ sense of belonging develops in undergraduate field courses.
Using our interview results and initial framework, we administered a faculty survey to uncover how sense of belonging is considered, designed for, and assessed within undergraduate field courses. The survey investigated perceptions of belonging and its importance in undergraduate field courses, and the use of specific practices that our interview findings indicate to be supportive of a sense of belonging. Data will be used to further inform framework development in an iterative fashion. In addition to the faculty that teach the eight undergraduate field courses already involved in our study, we recruited additional faculty survey participants via listserv.
Community of Practice
We have brought our research directly to the classroom by creating and supporting a Community of Practice (CoP). This CoP is guided by the iterative framework developed throughout our research and focused on the goal of creating a toolbox of promising practices that can be shared with the broader community of field educators. We recruited for the CoP in the Summer of 2023 and launched in Fall of 2023-2024.