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field work

About the Project:

Our project envisions STEM field courses as spaces where undergraduate students feel welcomed into equitable environments that sustain and celebrate their identities and backgrounds. 

We are conducting research with students and faculty to understand the factors that build and shape a students’ sense of belonging, and will use our findings to support a Community of Practice that builds the capacity of faculty in the field sciences to share and implement classroom interventions that increase inclusion and equity.


Project design

schematic showing project design outlined in text



We are beginning our data collection in February 2022 with an interest survey that will be sent to field education listservs. The short survey will be 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 will be selected to represent a range of course types, regions, and disciplines. 


Student Survey

Students from the selected courses will be asked to respond to a survey that explores 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 & Faculty Interviews

We will recruit students with a range of survey responses for an in depth interview 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.


Faculty survey

Using our interview results and initial framework, we will then administer a faculty survey to uncover how sense of belonging is considered, designed for, and assessed within undergraduate field courses. The survey will investigate 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 will recruit additional faculty survey participants via listserv.


Community of Practice (CoP)

We aim to bring our research directly to the classroom by creating and supporting a Community of Practice. This CoP will be 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. Additional information about the CoP will be forthcoming as the project develops.




This project is funded by the National Science Foundation award #2110824.


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