Lessons Learned through Educational Research of a National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates
Participation in an archaeological field school is the entry point to a professional career in the discipline. Despite the importance of field schools, few scholars have investigated achieved student-learning outcomes or lasting impacts on students from participation in archaeological field research. We report on the educational design, learning objectives, and results of three years of formative and summative assessments for an interdisciplinary, archaeology and ecology research program for undergraduate students. Our learning objectives include promoting scientific literacy and communication, critical thinking and STEM skills, and capacities in archaeological and ecological interdisciplinarity. Using developed rubrics that account for both critical thinking and STEM understanding, self-administered competency surveys, and program-developed items, we found significant gains in nearly all learning objectives. Students demonstrated growth in program specific content, perceived abilities in their scientific and discipline specific skills, critical thinking skills, and scientific communication skills. These educational outcomes and assessment tools have implications for how we design and evaluate field learning in archaeology and may be applied to field school instruction.