Story Maps: virtual field trips to increase participation of students with disabilities in the Geosciences

Authors: Claudia O. Espinosa*, Cal State LA, Marissa DeHoyos, Cal State LA
Topics: Earth Science, Geography Education, Higher Education
Keywords: Story Maps, GIS Education, Students with Disabilities, Accessibility, Geosciences, Higher Education
Session Type: Interactive Short Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Iris, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The geosciences lack participation from individuals with disabilities, a group that is traditionally underrepresented in the STEM fields. Intensive fieldwork instruction during training hampers participation and learning, creating barriers that can discourage individuals with disabilities from considering majoring in the geosciences. Accessible field trips and universal design are some of the ways instruction is changing, albeit slowly.

This small pilot project was created after seeing first hand fellow students with disabilities struggle to access educational opportunities that required oceanographic cruises or physically demanding field work. A solution was created by using webmaps, specifically Story Maps to create virtual field trips that any student can access. Individuals are guided through a class field activity with different media that has been incorporated into the Story Map. It allows students with disabilities to experience the same learning opportunities that other students have.

Field trips for undergraduate and graduate level classes were documented by field trip participants & faculty at Cal State Los Angeles Dept. of Geosciences and the Environment. For this project, some of the Story Maps created are for classes in STEM disciplines such as Geology, Mechanical and Civil Engineering.
An added benefit is that Geography students can apply their GIS and mapping skills in collaboration with Geology, Engineering, and Environmental Science students, enhancing the learning process all around. This ongoing activity creates immediate access while other solutions can be implemented that broaden students with disabilities participation.

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