Experiential Learning in Interdisciplinary Research:
                         Engaging Students, Faculty and the Community

One of the most effective means of education is to learn by doing. In the sciences, this effectively means involving students in the activities of scientists, namely research and education. Although the research may be global in extent and application, education begins locally, on campus and in the community. The Geology Program at ISU seeks to actively involve undergraduate and graduate students in cutting-edge research that is global in application and extent. These students serve as conduits of information and excitement, conveying their experiences in written and oral form not only to scientists, but also to ISU students, local schools, and the community. Education of the campus and community about the global, applicable research at ISU is a vital aspect of the University's role in the region, and the ISU Geology Program integrates student education, scientific research and educational outreach. Involvement of students in field-oriented research projects provides potentially life-changing experiences that, when presented to peers, engages other students. One of the benefits of experiential learning for students is the expansion of their perception of what is possible. At ISU, students have begun to realize that it is possible to be a marine scientist, despite the distance to the nearest ocean. There are oceanographers at IUPUI, IU, SIU, and NIU, so marine research is not unusual in the region, though this is not widely known. ISU is conducting research around the globe, and involving local students in the process of scientific discovery.

The objectives of experiential learning projects in the Geology Program include: (1) to provide significant, life-changing, experiential learning opportunities for undergraduates; (2) train students not only to conduct research, but to give presentations to classes and local schools, engaging other students in the experiential learning process; (3) provide student-generated displays that would highlight experiential learning; (4) promote experiential learning in faculty research across campus and the nation by showcasing students who are involved in research; (5) promote ISU research activities in the sciences to the community through presentations; (6) write research grants that include students; (7) involve local organizations in the training and education of students. Students work on research samples at ISU, present results at research conferences, publish abstracts, and also give presentations of the experience to ISU classrooms and to local schools. This model continues to be successful, providing well-trained graduates who compete very well in the job and graduate school markets.

The world's oceans cover about 70% of the globe, and the management and understanding of the biological and geological processes in marine environments remain primary foci of research, employment and global concern. It is therefore critical that science students be exposed to marine research, and become actively aware of the opportunities and importance of ocean science in society--even in land-locked areas of the Midwest. Ecosystem effects of pollutants is just one of the exciting avenues of research, and this affects not only humans but seafloor communities as well. Restoration of local aquatic habitats, and development of tourist and fisheries resources require an understanding of the potential impacts and recovery processes of aquatic ecosystems. To date we have been successful in the ISU geology program in a pilot program designed to give students research experience aboard a 24-hour
student research cruise off San Diego. We have also been successful in involving students on a major research cruises off Alaska, California Antarctica, and Italy. Each student in the Paleontology/Paleoceanography Lab has his/her own dedicated computer, microscope, and desk space for their specific research project. Each student has presented their work in at least one (usually several) scientific conference(s). As a result of these previous experiences and a growing reputation, ISU students are now being invited to participate in research endeavors around the world.

Check out some of the experiential learning that has been offered in the past here at ISU!!!!

      California (San Diego and Baja)
      Costa Rica
      Monterey Bay, California
      Venice, Italy


Current Research