Virtualizing soil science field trips

Darrell G. Schulze, Shams R. Rahmani, Joshua O. Minai, Cliff T. Johnston, Sherry S. Fulk-Bringman, John R. Scott, Ningning Nicole Kong, Yue Shirley Li, Michael L. Mashtare

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


In response to the coronavirus pandemic in the fall of 2020, we created hybrid–virtual or fully virtual field trips to replace in-person field trips in two courses. For an introductory soil science course with 178 students enrolled, we used a narrative format supported by 360° ground-level and drone photos, newspaper articles, videos, websites, and landscape diagrams. After reading the narratives, the students took a quiz and then visited the sites (public parks near campus) on their own. For the advanced pedology course with seven students enrolled, a virtual trip replaced an all-day field trip that travels a 100-mile route from West Lafayette to Michigan City, IN. The virtual trip was created within the Soil Explorer platform and consists of >50 points of interest (POIs) overlayed on detailed soil maps. Each POI includes relevant information about the soils, agriculture, geology, geomorphology, or history at that point. At two POIs students examined four or five soils along two transects by filling in worksheets using the official series descriptions. Learning was facilitated by a study guide. Effectiveness was assessed by anonymous surveys. Students found the hybrid–virtual or fully virtual field trips informative, interesting, enjoyable, and appropriate given the pandemic. For the introductory class, 42% preferred a virtual field trip format, 39% preferred an in-person format, and 19% were neutral. In the advanced class there was with a clear preference for in-person field trips.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere20046
JournalNatural Sciences Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Insect Science
  • Education
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science
  • Ecology


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