Motivation and Connection to Earth on Geology Field Trips in New Zealand: Comparing American Study Abroad Students with Local Undergraduates

  • Alison Jolley University of Canterbury, New Zealand
  • Erik Brogt University of Canterbury, New Zealand
  • Ben M. Kennedy University of Canterbury, New Zealand
  • Samuel J. Hampton
  • Lyndon Fraser University of Canterbury, New Zealand
Keywords: Motivation, Connection to Earth, Geology, New Zealand, Study abroad, Education abroad


Field education is a critical and enriching component of the undergraduate geoscience curriculum, enhanced when combined with a study abroad program. The affective domain – defined in geoscience as emotion, motivation, and connection to Earth – is an integral part of the field experience. Using questionnaire data collected at the start of two geoscience field trips, this study compares motivation and connection to Earth of study abroad students from the United States with local New Zealand students. Results show that study abroad students have more expert-like motivations and ecological worldviews, and are more attached to and see more positive and diverse meanings in the field area. To take advantage of this and improve student outcomes, we recommend that this study abroad module be adapted to be more applied, environmentally-focused, and place-based. Findings highlight the importance of teaching and learning to specific study abroad students, rather than applying unchanged curricula from local institutions.


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Author Biographies

Alison Jolley, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Alison Jolley is a PhD student in geoscience education studying the development of sense of place on undergraduate geoscience field trips. Her research interests lie at the interface between geoscience, people and landscape.

Erik Brogt, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Erik Brogt is a senior lecturer in academic development, supporting university staff, departments and colleges on matters teaching and learning. His research interests are in science education and communication, and in the application of educational psychology to optimise teaching, learning and the student experience in university settings.

Ben M. Kennedy, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Ben Kennedy is an associate professor in volcanology and geoscience education. His interests are student engagement, virtual and real field trips, and group activities such as simulations and role plays as well as anything related to volcanoes and geothermal energy.

Samuel J. Hampton

Sam Hampton is Director of Academic Programmes for Frontiers Abroad Aotearoa, a field lecturer in field programs, and a lecturer in geology. His research interests are in physical volcanology, volcanic geomorphology, hazards, geoscience education and community engagement.

Lyndon Fraser, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Lyndon Fraser is an Associate Professor at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, and Research Fellow in Human History at the city's Canterbury Museum. His most recent publication is the co-edited book History Making a Difference: New Approaches from Aotearoa (2017).


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How to Cite
Jolley, A., Brogt, E., Kennedy, B. M., Hampton, S. J., & Fraser, L. (2018). Motivation and Connection to Earth on Geology Field Trips in New Zealand: Comparing American Study Abroad Students with Local Undergraduates. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 30(3), 72-99.