03 May 2023
 | 03 May 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

The Rock Garden: campus-based geological field skills training improves student confidence in real-world field work

Thomas W. Wong Hearing, Stijn Dewaele, Stijn Albers, Julie De Weirdt, and Marc De Batist

Abstract. The Rock Garden is a new on-campus field skills training resource at Ghent University, developed to increase the accessibility of and opportunities for students’ geological field skills training. Developing specific field skills is integral to geoscience education and is typically concentrated into whole-day or longer field courses. These field courses have exceptional educational value as they draw together multiple strands of classroom theory and practical laboratory learning. However, field courses are expensive and time-intensive to run, and can present physical, financial, and cultural barriers to accessing geoscience education. Moreover, the relative infrequency of field courses over a degree programme means that key skills go unused for long intervals and students can lose confidence in their application of these skills. To tackle the inaccessibility of field skills training, made more pronounced in light of the coronavirus pandemic, we built the Rock Garden: an artificial geological mapping training area that emulates a real-world mapping exercise in Belgium. We have integrated the Rock Garden into our geological mapping training courses and have used it in partial mitigation of coronavirus travel restrictions. Using the Rock Garden as a refresher exercise before a real-world geological mapping exercise increased students’ confidence in their field skills, and students whose education was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic produced work of a similar quality to students from pre-pandemic cohorts. Developing a campus-based resource makes field training locally accessible, giving students more opportunities to practice their field skills and, consequently, more confidence in their abilities.

Thomas W. Wong Hearing et al.

Status: open (until 06 Jul 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

Thomas W. Wong Hearing et al.

Thomas W. Wong Hearing et al.


Total article views: 199 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)
HTML PDF XML Total BibTeX EndNote
163 31 5 199 2 1
  • HTML: 163
  • PDF: 31
  • XML: 5
  • Total: 199
  • BibTeX: 2
  • EndNote: 1
Views and downloads (calculated since 03 May 2023)
Cumulative views and downloads (calculated since 03 May 2023)

Viewed (geographical distribution)

Total article views: 210 (including HTML, PDF, and XML) Thereof 210 with geography defined and 0 with unknown origin.
Country # Views %
  • 1
Latest update: 04 Jun 2023
Short summary
Field skills training is an important part of geoscience education, but long field courses away from home can be barriers to geoscience education and mean that students don't get regular field skills practice. We built the Rock Garden, an on-campus field course at Ghent University, Belgium, to make our field skills training more accessible. We show that using more accessible, local training resources like the Rock Garden increases students' confidence during real-world field work.