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

  • Christopher FelegeEmail author
  • Rebecca Romsdahl
  • Joshua Hunter
  • Cheryl Hunter
  • Susan Ellis-Felege
Research Article


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.


Field experience Immersion Internship Translational ecology 


Supplementary material

13412_2019_555_MOESM1_ESM.docx (15 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 15 kb)


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Copyright information

© AESS 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology Stop 9019University of North DakotaGrand ForksUSA
  2. 2.Department of Earth System Science and Policy Stop 9011University of North DakotaGrand ForksUSA
  3. 3.College of Education and Human Development Stop 7189University of North DakotaGrand ForksUSA

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