Sierra College Department of Biological Sciences

Sierra College Field Studies Program

Field Studies Program

Why Should I Participate?

Why Participate - Why Not?

Field study classes provide information and hands-on experiences at selected sites which best demonstrate the principles being studied. If you have the opportunity to form direct or personal experiences, you will learn faster, more thoroughly, and remember longer what you have learned. Overall, field experiences will strongly enhance your understanding of the concepts and topics and be useful as you attend additional classes on other topics in the future. The experiences provided will be invaluable when you have a need to apply what you have learned. Many of the special study sites selected by your instructor(s) will provide a wonderful learning environment.

If you are interested in a topic or discipline but have not yet taken any formal classes in that subject, the field programs may give you the best and most exciting introduction to the subject, allowing you to work with your peers as a team to explore it. Many students enroll in these classes prior to taking many of our other, more formal classes and, find that they enjoy the additional challenges and experiences of learning in the field. Also as common, are students who have completed related classroom courses and now want to add field experiences to enhance and strengthen their understanding and mastery of the subject(s).

If you would like more specific or local information about a particular topic or place, a field class is the best way to receive it. Field classes provide a "guided" learning experience, occurring on-site with a knowledgeable teacher and the opportunity to work with others who share your interest in learning. Field studies (field trips) provide you a chance to "see the world" for yourself and to immediately share what you are experiencing with others. Instead of simply watching an image on the screen, you are immersed within the environment (the subject), interacting with it directly, engaged at the site, and observing it first-hand. Seeing life or the world first-hand promotes a clearer understanding and believing. Only by being within the environment can you "feel" its importance, its impacts, and its dynamics with your senses, and, therefore, formulate a working understanding of a complex subject. This is the "best" way to learn. Many visitors think they "know" Yosemite, History, San Francisco or Photography, (etc.), but participating in a structured field class provides special informational resources, planned activities and the benefits of teamwork to individualized learning and strengthen understanding.

During these classes you work independently and as a group. You communicate with the others who have joined you in the "adventure" to discover and learn. You learn from each other as much as the instructors and guides. You may be assigned learning tasks or field problems to solve with your peer group. Perhaps the challenges may be as basic as getting to the study site on time and ready to work or as sophisticated as analyzing ecological data or artistic relevance. Field classes most often involve listening to directions, taking lecture notes, solving problems and learning new hands-on techniques just as you would do in the classroom, but with out the climate controlled advantages generally found indoors.

Because of the unique settings, working closely with others you may have just met, you may learn as much about yourself as you do about the formal field study topics. Often separated from the conveniences of home, fast food, and your car, you may learn to prioritize and organize in new ways for new reasons. Learning often leads to obtaining new perspectives on life and your surroundings. New perspectives often challenge old understandings and ideas, promoting personal growth and development. Your sense of home and connection to other places can broaden. You can learn the value of other places, relationships and cultures, realize their importance to your life and appreciate what these places and peoples can contribute to your world. All this, is why you should consider becoming a participant.

Importance of Field Experiences (for a different perspective, read also) 

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