September 2020 Researcher Spotlight- Dr. Alison Jolley (AJ)

Read more about Dr. Alison Jolley's GER research interests and background in our September 2020 Researcher Spotlight!

What is the focus of your current geoscience education research?


My research focuses broadly on undergraduate field education in geology and related disciplines. I am particularly interested in the emotional and attitudinal aspects and impacts of in-person and virtual field experiences – for students and staff. My recent work has focused on rest and wellbeing, sense of place, sense of belonging, and assessment in the field. I am also engaged in research on academic/educational development in geology. 


What has been the best tool/resource you've found for developing as a geoscience education researcher (organization, conferences, webinar, person, online resource)? 


It sounds cheesy, but this amazing GER community is the best resource! I attended my first GSA meeting as an undergraduate in 2009 and have felt welcomed and included ever since. I love how supportive and encouraging our community is, and how eager everyone is to learn more about and improve geoscience teaching and learning for all students. Contributing to journals as a reviewer and editor has also been instrumental in my exposure and development as a researcher. 


What is the most interesting paper you have read in the field recently? How did it spark your researcher curiosity? 


"How did you learn to map? A model for describing influential learning experiences in geologic mapping" (Petcovic, H.L., McNeal, P.M., Nyarko, S.C., and Doorlag, M.H., 2020). This is one of those inspirational papers that you just wish you had written yourself - I was immediately in awe of the compelling research design and exceptional writing! This is an exemplary use of qualitative methods and it leverages an interesting and highly applicable theory (situated learning) for field education research. I love how clearly and transparently the authors detailed their research approach, in addition to their fascinating findings. This work has made me think a lot about how we acquire expertise in field mapping and it has clear implications for the importance of communities of practice in the design and instruction of field courses. 


What is your advice for someone who is interested in starting out in geoscience education research or scholarship of teaching and learning?


Follow your interests and keep trying new things. There are so many interesting questions that are yet to be explored and much of your research skills are transferrable and applicable to different contexts. If you're new to this kind of work, reach out to colleagues with experience in the scholarship of teaching and learning or educational research, whether that be in geology, other science disciplines, education, or the centre for teaching and learning at your institution. People like me are always enthusiastic about forming supportive partnerships!


What does GER look like at your institution, in your position? (ex. Are you in a geology department or college of ed? Do you work with other DBER folks? Do you have graduate students? Are you looking for graduate or undergraduate students? Etc.)


I am situated in my institution's centre for teaching and learning. My work is a fun mix of supporting academic staff in their teaching across the institution, teaching courses for academic staff who are completing a Postgraduate Certificate in Tertiary Teaching and Learning, and conducting research. I work with colleagues in my centre to conduct local research on teaching and learning, as well as others in New Zealand and internationally on geoscience education, field education and academic development questions. I really value the breadth of keen educators that I work with and the variety of contexts that I get to work in. I look forward to supervising students whose interests are just as diverse! 


Most recent publication: Jolley, A., Hampton, S., Brogt, E., Kennedy, B., Fraser, L., and Knox, A. 2019. Student field experiences: designing for different instructors and variable weather. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 43(1):71-95.