The goal of the present study was to examine the relationship between different levels of instructor-led scaffolding, social dynamics, and scientific observations learners made in a geology field course, factors which are often minimized in existing geoscience fieldwork literature, and which combination of these factors are related with an effective learning environment (ELE). In the context of this study, an ELE in geoscience fieldwork supports a collaborative discussion between a group of learners that results in synthesis of relevant geologic concepts. To analyze this relationship, we used audio and video data from 20 secondary science teachers on a summer field trip spanning over six days in Capitol Reef National Park (CRNP). Specifically, we did a multiple case study analysis of one group of four teachers throughout one day of the field course, examining three distinct cases exhibiting a high, medium, and low level of scaffolding. During our analysis we reviewed student self-reflection forms to find cases of interest, then we created transcripts of the relevant video/audio data, and finally we used these transcripts to write narrative summaries of the cases. Our analysis found that high-level scaffolding was related with low group collaboration and scientific observation but also a synthesis of relevant geological concepts. In contrast, low-level scaffolding was related with greater group collaboration and observation but did not exhibit synthesis of relevant concepts. We found that mid-level scaffolding bridges this gap, as learners engaged in group collaboration and the sharing of observations, while also being guided towards a synthesis of relevant geologic concepts. An ELE was most closely related to the mid-level scaffolding case. These results highlight the importance of scaffolding within a field learning environment and how different levels of scaffolding may potentially relate to the nature of group collaboration, scientific observation, and eventually an ELE. Implications of this work suggest future attention to the role of scaffolding in fieldwork.