An experiment in collaborative mapping at geology field camp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In many college geology programs, summer field camp is designed to be the capstone of students' experience. In our camp, however, we found that the experience was commonly tempered by issues of competition, anomie, motivation, and perceived relevance. In response, some aspects of traditional field-camp structure were eliminated and field camp became the 'Central Colorado Geology Mapping Company,' a firm that employed teams of student geologists to map certain areas of central Colorado with potential for economic development. All parties were found by contractual obligations that specified among other things financial remuneration for timely completion of high-quality maps. Earned money (geobucks) could then be exchanged for advancement credits (grades) and other benefits. Although some traditional aspects of field camp were retained, the major framework change into a business-style operation was meant to emulate a real geology or engineering-consulting-firm operation with budgetary and time constraints designed so that students had to effectively organize and manage their time, talents, and money to complete a project. Not only did we want to develop the basic skills of geologic mapping and synthesis, but we also sought to enhance certain job skills deemed essential in the job markets, while at the same time facilitating team management and unlocking the creativity inherent in collaborative learning. This change in framework helped to 'repackage' field camp in a generally more familiar commercial and social context and to place major responsibility for learning with the students. Although overall grades were slightly higher and camp procedures were easier for students and faculty, the most important result was that the new approach seemed to increase morale and helped to dispel feelings of isolation and intense academic competition while encouraging genuine collaboration and development of interpersonal skills. Moreover, none of these changes seem to have compromised in any way the basic geologic goals and content of summer field camp.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-234
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Geoscience Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'An experiment in collaborative mapping at geology field camp'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this