FA Semester Course

Teaching Pedagogy

Frontiers Abroad Aotearoa in partnership with the University of Canterbury, and University of Auckland, New Zealand, provides an immersive research experience for U.S. study abroad students through structured and guided research methods courses.

These courses are designed to link field research, data collection, lab analysis, with instruction in scientific research. The core of these course are structured around students conducting their own independent research, culminating in a journal-article style manuscript or scientific report, and a professional research poster presentation (many of which are presented at the annual GSA conference).

These courses have been designed to guide students through their research journey, introducing fundamental skills, processes, graphic design, scientific writing, presentation, and reporting. Each student defines and initiates their research question under the guidance of an academic mentor. Fundamental in this conceptual stage is to define a project that is of interest to the student, of importance/significance, and is also completable within an academic semester (~12 weeks).

Students are guided (lectures and tutorials) through the research process, with assessments designed and implemented at critical stages (i.e. research proposal and a three slide presentation – to clearly highlight their research question(s) and objectives). Assessments are also directly linked to the culminating end products – reducing the effect of assessing just for assessment sake.

With the involvement of academic staff, our students are actively contributing to ongoing research programs, enabling collaboration and networking, and exposed to specific skill sets and analytical techniques. These student projects provide a framework for conducting academic research, which individually may be of significance, or cumulatively begin to answer and contribute to our scientific knowledge and objectives.

The Frontiers Abroad Aotearoa, University of Canterbury and University of Auckland partnership allows students to directly engage with authentic research, and inspires them to pursue their research aspirations in the field of earth and environmental sciences. 

GEOL356-20X and ENVR356-S1 – University of Canterbury                                                                   

Field-focused Research Methods

Field Focused Research Methods in Environmental Science                  

30 points, 0.2500 EFTS


GEOL 356 and ENVR356 is an undergraduate research course for students enrolled in the Frontiers Abroad programme. This course is designed to link field modules and/or data collection with instruction in research methods and tutorials dedicated to working in research teams analyzing, processing and interpreting data.  As part of this course, students conduct their own independent research component as part of a larger team research project.  At the end of the course students will have completed a series of learning objectives, written a short journal-article style paper, and delivered a professional research presentation.


Lectures and Tutorials: 2-hour weekly lecture, 3-hour weekly tutorial.

Field trips: 4-day trip, collecting research data, will be held prior to the start of semester.

Assignment Overview:

In GEOL356 and ENVR356, assignments are designed as opportunities for you to receive constructive feedback on your progress towards the course outcomes, as well as to engage in intellectual dialogue with peers and mentors regarding your understanding of course materials and experiences.  Specific criteria are used to evaluate assignments. 

At this level of study, we expect you to do more than be physically present.  We will also be looking for you to:

  1. Participate in and be physically and intellectually present in the classes;
  2. Read beyond your lecture notes, your insights enhance the learning achieved in the lecture room;
  3. Ensure that you understand the course material, and seek help if you do not;
  4. Engage in forums and discussion exercises throughout the course;
  5. Spend 20 hours each week in self-learning for this course;
  6. Work collaboratively with your mentor and research peers
  7. Complete the assignments and research project.


Research Proposal – 10%

Paper Critique – 10%

Introduction – 10%

Reflection and Class participation – 10%

Abstract – 5%

Research poster and presentation – 25%

Research manuscript / paper / report – 30%

Goal of the Course

This course seeks to provide students with the basic skills to conduct scientific research by doing research, present/write up scientific results, interact with your peers within a research team, and culturally engage with New Zealand

Learning Outcomes

  • Learning how to conduct research by doing research (experiential learning)
  • Learning about one’s own identity through engagement with other persons and communities during the research process
  • Learning the value of cultural competency via the research process (i.e. engagement with Iwi and learning fundamentals of tikanga Maori through pre-term marae visits and research data collection)
  • Learn how to design and write a research proposal that is punchy and scientifically rigorous
  • Learn the art of peer reviewing
  • Learn how to perform a library/online search
  • Learn how to prepare and write a literature review
  • Learn how to present research data (effective figures and tables)
  • Learn the difference between an Abstract and an Introduction
  • Learn how to structure a research report or articles
  • Learn how to make and deliver a professional research presentation
  • Learn how to structure and write a research article

Course Expectations

As a half-year, 30-point course, you are expected to spend approximately 25 hours per week on average for your research.  Contact hours include 4 days in the field (30 hours), 60 lectures/tutorial hours, and more than 200 additional hours (~17 hours a week) in course-related self-learning.

Course assignments are designed to reinforce skill sets and information addressed in the course.  By engaging thoughtfully and thoroughly with the course experiences we hope you will begin to merge prior knowledge with new knowledge, and meld this with what you are learning with and from your peers.