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ERIC Number: EJ994186
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 27
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 78
ISSN: ISSN-0950-0693
Exposing the Challenges and Coping Strategies of Field-Ecology Graduate Students
Leon-Beck, Mika; Dodick, Jeff
International Journal of Science Education, v34 n16 p2455-2481 2012
In this paper, we expose the unique challenges confronting graduate field-ecology students and the coping strategies they adopt to overcome such challenges. To do so, we used a qualitative ("in vivo") research method that combines interviews, observations and open questionnaires with a group of five Israeli graduate students. The two major challenges that the students faced were the uncontrolled nature of field research (or complexity), and the nature of field setting, which isolated the students from authoritative guidance. In response to these challenges, the students developed a set of research skills which were expressed in this study by a series of three (metacognitive) strategies which we designated as "protocol-dominated", "intermediate" or "field-dominated". In order to develop such research skills, our subjects rely upon declarative and procedural knowledge. In contrast to declarative knowledge, learned in coursework, procedural knowledge is learned and activated via the situated experience of implementing research in authentic field environments. We also found that fieldwork complexity imposes itself the minute the students step into the field; potentially, this can negatively impact students' motivation. However, as the students accumulate field experience and acquire the knowledge and skills needed to overcome the field's complexity, their motivation improves. Recognizing the unique learning components connected to field research will help novice students better cope with fieldwork challenges, as well as help their advisers in guiding them. This work also has implications for designing inquiry curricula in field sciences for university and high-school students. (Contains 1 figure.)
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: High Schools; Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Israel