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Immersive field experiences lead to higher-level learning and translational impacts on students


  • Christopher Felege

    (University of North Dakota)

  • Rebecca Romsdahl

    (University of North Dakota)

  • Joshua Hunter

    (University of North Dakota)

  • Cheryl Hunter

    (University of North Dakota)

  • Susan Ellis-Felege

    (University of North Dakota)


Internships in STEM disciplines, especially in fields related to conservation and sustainability, have become more widespread in recent years. Such experiences are thought to go beyond traditional classroom learning and are now required as part of the curriculum in many programs. However, benefits of such internships have largely been presumed up to this point. In this work, we developed and tested a research question asking if there is a gradient of learning that occurs across immersive educational experiences. These range from low-level immersion classroom learning to highly immersive field internships. We found that student learning increases as the level of immersion increases. Furthermore, our findings suggest that highly immersive internships lead to more translational outcomes. This is based on values and dispositional changes relevant to research that are absent in lower-level immersive experiences. These findings suggest that highly immersive internships are likely to be key foundational experiences that help undergraduate student stakeholders develop a set of knowledge, skills, and abilities that are critical to a translational workforce in conservation and sustainability.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher Felege & Rebecca Romsdahl & Joshua Hunter & Cheryl Hunter & Susan Ellis-Felege, 2019. "Immersive field experiences lead to higher-level learning and translational impacts on students," Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Springer;Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, vol. 9(3), pages 286-296, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jenvss:v:9:y:2019:i:3:d:10.1007_s13412-019-00555-y
    DOI: 10.1007/s13412-019-00555-y

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Heather Thiry & Sandra L. Laursen & Anne-Barrie Hunter, 2011. "What Experiences Help Students Become Scientists? A Comparative Study of Research and other Sources of Personal and Professional Gains for STEM Undergraduates," The Journal of Higher Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 82(4), pages 357-388, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dan Klooster & Nathan Strout & David Smith, 2022. "GIS in the jungle: Experiential Environmental Education (EEE) in Panama," Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Springer;Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, vol. 12(1), pages 164-176, March.

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