Fieldwork: What can we do to make it even better


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  • Hello, Julian Park from the University of Reading I currently oversee T and L in a diverse Faculty of Life Sciences, but in the past have been Programme director for a environmental sciences degree and undertaken a diversity of fieldwork in the form of day trips and weeks long programmes. I am currently working with Derek France and Brian Whalley on NTFS project looking at how we can further enhance fieldwork learning, particularly using apologies if I harp on a bit about technology, it is near the fore of my mind at present. I would like this session to be fairly interactive, the objectives being To consider the current status of fieldwork To try and identify what we think makes fieldwork good To think about ways we could improve it If we all go away with one thing we could do to improve field work that would be excellent.
  • General feeling that fieldwork is essential to learning in two subject areas... Indeed it is in the benchmark statements Subject specific skills = talk about some of these later Generic skills = teamwork, leadership, presentation skills Relationships between students... and between students and staff Podcasts – two students talking about what fieldwork means to them.... So, most people believe fieldwork is a good thing, but it is under pressure and some evidence it is in decline (Smith, 2004) Smith, Debbie. (2004) Issues and trends in higher education biology fieldwork. Journal of Biological Education, 39, 6–10 Pressures = need to justify costs and time involved changes in HE funding need to link to students’ employment prospects .....need to demonstrate that fieldwork is an essential part of the learning experience in order to justify it’s place in the curriculum
  • Lat year we undertook a survey of tutors teaching fieldwork in the biology, perhaps expecting to see a decline...this was not necessarily the case Tutors felt that the amount of fieldwork undertaken by students over the last 5 years has stayed approximately the same (58%) or even increased (27%) with only 15% of respondents saying it had decreased. A variety of reasons were provided for a change in the amount of fieldwork undertaken by students over the last 5 years, but these were mainly due to the addition or removal of modules or programmes. Overall impression was that related staff were going the extra mile to ensure fieldwork in the curricula was maintained, but not that much redundancy left in the system.
  • What makes fieldwork learning good / high quality....? Firstly.... going to ask you! please take a look at the success card you collected on the way in.... (5 mins) please fill in the handouts individually, then in groups Think about a recent successful fieldwork learning experience. Please describe it and give reasons why you think it was successful? Please leave the completed handouts and we will collect them in – will give us some interesting insights into current examples of good practice in fieldwork
  • Should say that all the podcasts of students are taken from a fieldtrip at the Derrygonelly field centre in Northern Eire. Chalk grassland species Baps chalk streams, caalcareous grassland, beech and yew woodland Chalk species oxeye daisies ( Leucantheum vulgare ) bird's-foot trefoil ( Lotus corniculatus ) common spotted orchid ( Dactylorhiza fuchsii ) wild marjoram ( Origanum vulgare ) salad burnet ( Sanguisorba minor ssp. minor ) Finally, late summer colour is provided by: small scabious ( Scabiosa columbaria ) knapweed ( Centaurea nigra )
  • Going back to the survey of bioscientists this seems to reflect much of what we have already heard. Top 5 reasons to retain fieldwork.... These are aall things I suspect we recognise...helping to enthuse students to our subject and to link to the real world with a thought to future employment
  • We then asked about specific skills In terms of learning experiences – skill development is good example Main fieldwork skills from survey.... Most of these could not be learnt as efficiently in any other setting = good justification for retaining fieldwork in the curriculum
  • In GEES subjects the skill base is very similar List of skills taken from Fuller et al. (2000) based on work by Gold et al. (1991) Fuller, Ian., Edmondson, S., France, D., Higgitt, D. and Ratinen, I. (2006) International perceptions on the effectiveness of geography fieldwork for learning. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 30, 89–101 Gold, John.R., Jenkins, A., Lee, R., Monk, J., Riley, J., Shepard, I. and Unwin, D. (1991) Teaching Geography in Higher Education – a manual of good practice. Oxford: Blackwell. it must be easy to justify the need for fieldwork in the curriculum to enhance these important skills... “ Over the next 10 years the UK will need to plug skills gaps or it risks running short of people with the necessary skills to tackle urgent problems like environmental risks to human health and safe carbon capture and storage. 2008-2010, NERC led the Review of Skills Needs in the Environment Sector THE MOST WANTED SKILLS : 1. Modelling 2. Multi-disciplinarity 3. Data Management 4. Numeracy 5. Translating Research 6. Fieldwork 7. Risk and Uncertainty 8. Taxonomy and Systematics 9. Soil Science 10. Environmental Epidemiology 11. Sustainability Science and Planning 12. Microbiology 13. Food Supply 14. Energy Supply 15. Freshwater Science
  • How can we enhance student learning in the field? Need to think about what could be improved and what are the challenges/obstacles prevent this from happening now. Please now fill in the bottom section of the handout – as before, do it individually and then in small groups.
  • How can we enhance student learning in the field? Need to think about what could be improved and what are the challenges/obstacles prevent this from happening now. Please now fill in the bottom section of the handout – as before, do it individually and then in small groups. Usually about 10 c , rich in dissolved minerals, slightly alkaline, a good habitat for salmonoid species and the rich invertebrate fauna.
  • On the website or e mail me for copies Developed audit tool for fieldwork staff Example questions............. Before fieldwork.... = Do you explain to the students the fieldwork elements to be undertaken during the module and the expected learning outcomes? = Do you provide guidance on statistical methods and research processes that are likely to be used during fieldwork? During fieldwork...... = Do you review and adapt the risk assessment during fieldwork? Have provided copy Has sections on pre-fieldwork preparation, during fieldwork, using technology, assessment & feedback and post-fieldwork issues Would be very interested to know your thoughts on this. Contact details on project website. Clear learning outcomes map fieldwork onto desired programme & module learning outcomes explain how these are integrated – to both students and staff review for relevance & modernity create a novel learning space by exploiting the unique characteristics of the field environment relate to benchmark statements Skill development relate fieldwork aims to professional accreditation & employability skills develop subject specific & generic/transferrable skills Well advance explain travel arrangements & any costs involved provide guidance on research methods & stats provide documentation/handout early to allow students to prepare consider sustainability issues, land permissions, access rights, prepare risk assessments, field plans Accessibility ensure accessible for all; including students with disabilities and learning support needs provide hardship funds ensure accommodation/cooking arrangements suitable for all Assessment & supervision describe early – provide assessment criteria align the assessment with the learning outcomes provide informal feedback during fieldwork return assessment and feedback in a timely manner maintain appropriate student:staff ratio Social arrange pre-trip meetings & ice-breakers provide sufficient time for students to plan their fieldwork = not stressful Technology Provide guidance/practice of hi-tech field equipment beforehand Provide personal digital equipment for the students to collate their data Encourage the use of Web 2.0 technologies - social networking site/fieldwork blog Provide field instrumentation Provide electronic field guides or iPhone applications for identification purposes Incorporate GPS capabilities into field equipment Post-field work reflection get students to reflect on and/or apply their learning on fieldwork ensure fieldwork learning is integrated into the wider curricula discuss and share ideas on how to provide a good quality field learning experience with colleagues Refer to pedagogic literature and feedback from previous students to improve fieldwork aims
  • Explain what’s going on “ Now I’m going to ask for your opinion. So please take out your mobile phones, but remember to leave them on silent.” “ You’ll participate by sending a text message.” Address their concerns “ This is a just standard rate text message, so it may be free for you, or up to twenty cents (it cost me 20p) on some network plans.” “ The service we are using is serious about privacy. We cannot see your phone numbers, and you’ll never receive follow-up text messages outside this presentation (apart from one that will ping back immediately from polleverywhere with the same reassurances).” Run a demo – text a word to the poll and watch it come up live on the next page.
  • In an emergency during your presentation, if the poll isn't showing, navigate to this link in your web browser: Only 30 responses on this poll. If more, go to next page to continue…?
  • Fieldwork: What can we do to make it even better

    1. 1. Fieldwork learning What makes it good and can we make it even better? Julian Park , Faculty of Life Sciences Director of Teaching and Learning & Subject Advisor for the HEA Centre for Bioscience
    2. 2. Fieldwork is essential… <ul><li>For learning in two main subject areas: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Geology, geography, environmental science (GEES) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Biological sciences </li></ul></ul><ul><li>For learning subject specific skills </li></ul><ul><li>For learning various generic skills </li></ul><ul><li>For providing a valuable social context for relationship building </li></ul><ul><li>For making the subject ‘come alive’ (4 students) </li></ul><ul><li>But fieldwork provision is under pressure </li></ul>
    3. 3. Amount of fieldwork Has the amount of fieldwork changed over the past 5 years? Decreased (15%) Increased (27%) Stayed approximately the same (58%)
    4. 4. What do you think makes fieldwork learning successful? <ul><li>Think about a recent successful fieldwork learning experience. Please note down 2 or 3 reasons as to why you think it was successful? </li></ul>Success cards
    5. 5. What makes fieldwork learning good? <ul><li>Your thoughts </li></ul><ul><li>Thoughts from some students </li></ul><ul><li>( Podcasts from students ) </li></ul><ul><li>My thoughts </li></ul><ul><li>( Julian’s video ) </li></ul>
    6. 6. Reasons to retain fieldwork <ul><li>Maw et al. (2011) Biological fieldwork provision in Higher Education. Bioscience Education, 17-1. </li></ul>Tutors' most important reasons from 2010 survey: 1 To experience ‘real’ biology 2 To learn key practical skills (including taxonomic skills, quantitative methods, observation, field sampling etc.) 3 To enthuse and motivate students 4 To develop group and social cohesion and learning 5 To develop professional skills (including team working, presentational skills etc.)
    7. 7. Main Bioscience skills developed in the field <ul><li>Tutors' top five most important skills from 2010 survey: </li></ul><ul><li>Identification/classification </li></ul><ul><li>Monitoring/sampling/surveying </li></ul><ul><li>Teamworking </li></ul><ul><li>Research/experimental design </li></ul><ul><li>Observation </li></ul><ul><li>Maw et al. (2011) Biological fieldwork provision in Higher Education. Bioscience Education, 17-1. </li></ul>
    8. 8. Main GEES skills developed in the field <ul><li>Development of observational skill </li></ul><ul><li>Facilitation of experiential learning </li></ul><ul><li>Encouragement of student responsibility for their own learning </li></ul><ul><li>Development of analytical skills </li></ul><ul><li>Provision of a taste of ‘real’ research </li></ul><ul><li>Kindling of a respect for the environment </li></ul><ul><li>Development of personal skills </li></ul><ul><li>Promotion of social interaction between staff and students on residential courses. </li></ul><ul><li>Fuller et al. (2000) based on Gold et al . (1991). </li></ul>
    9. 9. How can we make it better? <ul><li>Challenge cards </li></ul><ul><li>List 2 or 3 aspects of student learning during fieldwork you think could be improved? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the obstacles preventing this from happening? </li></ul>
    10. 10. How can we make it better? <ul><li>Your thoughts </li></ul><ul><li>Thoughts from some students </li></ul><ul><li>( Podcasts from students ) </li></ul><ul><li>My thoughts </li></ul><ul><li>( Julian’s video ) </li></ul>
    11. 11. The Fieldwork Audit Tool <ul><li>Reflective tool designed to help staff examine and develop current fieldwork practices </li></ul><ul><li>Series of questions that help staff identify </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Aspects of current good practice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Areas where change might be needed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Innovations in fieldwork learning </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Staff can then review & improve on any aspects that are underperforming </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
    12. 12. What could you do to make fieldwork more effective? <ul><li>Live audience poll </li></ul><ul><li>Participate by sending a text message </li></ul><ul><li>Standard rate text message </li></ul><ul><li>Enter the mobile number: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>07624 806527 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In the message section add: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>249124 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>followed by your answer </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Press ‘send’ </li></ul>07624 806527 249124 Practise with GPS
    13. 13. Don’t forget: You can copy-paste this slide into other presentations, and move or resize the poll.
    14. 14. Concluding comments <ul><li>Important learning environment </li></ul><ul><li>Being maintained but some concerns </li></ul><ul><li>Important to ensure effective learning in the field </li></ul><ul><li>Make sure we make best use of pre, peri and post experience. </li></ul><ul><li>Share good practice </li></ul>
    15. 15. Further literature <ul><li>Maw, S.J., Mauchline, A.L. and Park, J.R. (2011) Biological fieldwork provision in Higher Education. Bioscience Education, 17-1. </li></ul><ul><li>Maskall, J. and Stokes, A. (2008) Designing effective fieldwork for the Environmental and Natural Sciences. GEES Teaching and Learning Guide. HE Academy Subject Centre for Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences </li></ul><ul><li>Peacock, J., Mauchline, A. and Park J.R. (2011) Fieldwork. In Effective Learning in the Life Sciences: How students can achieve their true potential. Ed Adams D. Forthcoming September 2011. Wiley-Blackwell. </li></ul>
    16. 16. Thank you