Learning by doing is more memorable: Soil judging as an educative tool

Conference Contribution - unpublished
Fields of Research
Soil scientists are increasingly working in a multidisciplinary world where they interact with professionals from different disciplines and diverse end user groups. The ability to communicate, and to be an effective team player are just as important skills as the ability to apply practical field skills and describe soil profiles. The kinaesthetic approach embodied in soil judging allows the student to also connect with pedological theory; and it is a pedagogically aligned style of learning. At Lincoln University we first adopted innovative, experiential learning in the form of soil judging in 2016 to address these issues, and have worked collaboratively with Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research to develop this programme. Soil judging in New Zealand is in its infancy compared to other countries, but the undergraduate student soil science society and academic staff have been enthusiastic in practicing soil description skills and land use interpretation, participating in soil judging contests in New Zealand and Australia. Students report that they have become more confident in soil description and that it has stimulated their interest in learning about soil science. We designed a micro credential to recognize the academic work of the students. Several soil judging graduates have secured employment as pedologists at Crown Research Institutes or as soil resource specialists in local / regional government organisations. Soil judging may also be an effective recruitment pipeline into the discipline: offering those students with a practical and kinaesthetic aptitude who perform well at soil judging an insight into the academic side of the soil science discipline. We posit that soil judging competitions are an effective framework for students to acquire a valuable range of practical, field-based skills for a professional career in soil science or allied enterprises.