Virtual strike and dip - Advancing inclusive and accessible field geology

Natalie Bursztyn, Pejman Sajjadi, Hannah Riegel, Jiawei Huang, Jan Oliver Wallgrün, Jiayan Zhao, Bart Masters, Alexander Klippel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Accessibility and inclusivity in field geology have become increasingly important issues to address in geoscience education and have long been set aside due to the tradition of field geology and the laborious task of making it inclusive to all. Although a popular saying among geologists is "the best geologists see the most rocks", field trips cost money, time, and are only accessible to those who are physically able to stay outside for extended periods. With the availability of 3D block diagrams, an onslaught of virtual learning environments is becoming increasingly viable. Strike and dip is at the core of any field geologist's education and career; learning and practicing these skills is fundamental to making geologic maps and understanding the regional geology of an area. In this paper, we present the Strike and Dip virtual tool (SaD) with the objective of teaching the principles of strike and dip for geologic mapping to introductory geology students. We embedded the SaD tool into an introductory geology course and recruited 147 students to participate in the study. Participants completed two maps using the SaD tool and reported on their experiences through a questionnaire. Students generally perceived the SaD tool positively. Furthermore, some individual differences among students proved to be important contributing factors to their experiences and subjective assessments of learning. When controlling for participants' past experience with similar software, our results indicate that students highly familiar with navigating geographical software perceived the virtual environment of the tool to be significantly more realistic and easier to use compared with those with lower levels of familiarity. Our results are corroborated by a qualitative assessment of participants' feedback to two open-ended questions, highlighting both the overall effectiveness of the SaD tool and the effect of geographical software familiarity on measures of experience and learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-53
Number of pages25
JournalGeoscience Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022


The authors would like to thank Peter La Femina of The Pennsylvania State University and his teaching assistants for performing this lab in his Geosc 001 Physical Geology laboratory. We would also like to thank Mahda Bagher for creating the survey used to gather the data used in this paper.

FundersFunder number
Pennsylvania State University


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