State of Geography Education Research in fieldwork
Fieldwork is at the heart of the subject discipline of Geography from primary education to undergraduate study.
As Lambert and Reiss (2014) suggest fieldwork ‘expresses a commitment to exploration and enquiry, and geography’s concern to discover and to be curious about the world.’ Although fieldwork is rooted within the subject and identity of geography and the contribution fieldwork makes to geographical learning has been recognised by the DfE (2013)and Ofsted (2011), it has been recognised that fieldwork is underdeveloped at both primary and secondary level.
In terms of research much that has been written regarding learning through fieldwork is grounded in experience rather than in a firm foundation in research studies. Much of the existing work seems to offer personal advice, guidance and support from an anecdotal point of view rather than from rigorous research. It is worth noting that research in fieldwork may overlap with other areas within geography e.g. enquiry, GIS, technology etc.
Gaps in Geography Education Research for fieldwork and future possibilities
There seems to be gaps in fieldwork both in the UK and internationally. Over the years many gaps in research have been identified to demonstrate the need for research into both the practice and assessment of fieldwork. One area of critical importance is the evaluation of geographical fieldwork for its educational effectiveness (Kent et al., 1997). Although this article is dated, many of these issues still require researching.
There is also a need to consider fieldwork from different perspectives e.g. what children/young people think about fieldwork; what is the effectiveness of different types of fieldwork; what are children/young people’s experiences of fieldwork places; what do children/young people learn from fieldwork; how do personal geographies affect fieldwork learning; how can fieldwork experiences be built on and enhanced in their geographical learning; ways in which geographers undertake and respond to geographical enquiries in fieldwork; what are teachers’ attitudes towards fieldwork?; the value of virtual fieldwork; planning and progression in fieldwork etc.
There is a lot of scope for future research possibilities into geographical fieldwork within Geography Education.
Key sources of Geographical Education Research for primary geography
- Primary Geography Journal – research informed articles, https://geography.org.uk/journals/primary-geographypractice- based research
- Teaching Geography Journal – research informed articles, practice- based research
- International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education
- Children’s Geographies journal
- Environmental Education Research journal
- Journal of Geography in Higher Education
Key research articles
Many of the items are dated but still relevant as key pieces of research in the absence of any more recent geography research on fieldwork. The list below gives a flavour of the key research articles, but is not exhaustive.
- Minocha, S. Tilling, S. & Tudor, A-D. (2018) Role of Virtual Reality in Geography and Science Fieldwork Education, In: Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series, Learning from New Technology, 25 Apr, Belfast.
- N. Ross,(2004) Researching children’s geographies using a multi-method approach.
- Beate Remen, K. & Frøyland, M. (2014) Implementation of guidelines for effective fieldwork designs: exploring learning activities, learning processes, and student engagement in the classroom and the field, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 23 (2), 103-125.
- Beate Remen, K. & Frøyland, M. (2015) What happens in classrooms after earth science fieldwork? Supporting student learning processes during follow-up activities, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education,24 (1) 24-42.
- Boyle, A., Maguire, S., Martin, A., Milsom, C., Nash, R., Rawlinson, S., Turner, A., Wurthmann, S. and Conchie, S. (2007) ‘Fieldwork is good: the student perception and the affective domain’, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 31, (2), 299–317.
- Chew-Hung Chang,C-H. Chatterjea, K, Goh, DH-L, Leng Theng, Y. Lim, E-P. Sun, A , Razikin, K. Quynh Kim,T.H. & Minh Nguyen, Q. (2012) Lessons from learner experiences in a field-based inquiry in geography using mobile devices, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 21(1), 41-58.
- Cook, V. (2006) ‘Inclusive fieldwork in a ‘risk society’, Teaching Geography, 31(3), 119-121.
- Cook, V. (2010) Exploring students’ personal experiences of geography fieldwork, Teaching Geography, 35 (2), 55-57.
- Cook, V. (2020) ‘The origins and development of geographical fieldwork in British Schools’, Geography, 96(2), 69-74.
- Doyle, J. (2006) If you go down to the woods today, Primary Geographer, 59, 17-19.
- Dunphy, A. and Spellman, G. (2009) ‘Geography fieldwork, fieldwork value and learning styles’, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 18, 1, pp. 19–28.
- Favier, T. & van der Schee, J.(2009) Learning geography by combining fieldwork with GIS, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 18,(4).
- Fuller, I. Rawlinson, S & Bevan, R. (2000) Evaluation of Student Learning Experiences in Physical Geography Fieldwork: Paddling or pedagogy?, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 24(2), 199-215.
- Hall, T., Healey, M., & Harrison, M. (2004) Fieldwork and disabled students: Discourses of exclusion and inclusion, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 28, 255–280.
- Halocha, J. (2005) ‘Developing a Research Tool to Enable Children to Voice their Experiences and Learning through Fieldwork’, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 14:4, 348-355.
- Kent, A. Gilbertson, D.D. Hunt, C.O. (1997) Fieldwork in Geography Teaching: a critical review of the literature and approaches, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 21 (3), 313- 332.
- Krakowka, A. R. (2012) Field Trips as Valuable Learning Experiences in Geography Courses, Journal of Geography, 111(6), 236-244.
- McMorrow, J. (2005) Using a Web-based Resource to Prepare Students for Fieldwork: Evaluating the Dark Peak Virtual Tour, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 29 (2), 223-240.
- Nundy, S. (1999) The fieldwork effect: The role and impact of fieldwork in the upper primary school, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 8(2), 190–198.
- Oost, K. De Vries , B & Van der Schee, J.A . (2011) Enquiry-driven fieldwork as a rich and powerful teaching strategy – school practices in secondary geography education in the Netherlands, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 20(4), 309-325.
- Pike, S. (2011) “If you went out it would stick”: Irish children’s learning in their local environments, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 20(2), 139–159.
- Cook, V.A. Phillips, D, & Holden, J. (2006) ’Geography fieldwork in a ‘risk society’’, Area, 38 (4), 413–420.
- Herrick, C. (2010) ‘Lost in the field: ensuring student learning in the “threatened” geography fieldtrip’, Area, 42, 1, pp. 108–16.
Other useful articles published for general reading
- Lambert, D. & Reiss, M. J. (2014) The place of fieldwork in geography and science qualifications, London: Institute of Education University of London.
- Hope, M. (2009) The Importance of Direct Experience: A Philosophical Defence of Fieldwork in Human Geography, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 33 (2), 169-182.
- House, D. Lapthorn, N. Moncrieff, D. Owens-Jones, G. & Turney, A. (2012) Risky Fieldwork, Teaching Geography, 37(2),60-62.
- Kinder, A. (2018) Acquiring geographical knowledge and understanding through fieldwork, Teaching Geography, 43 (3), 109-112.
- Phillips, R. (2012) Curiosity and fieldwork, Geography, 97 (2) 78-85.
- Hammond, L. (2018) The place of fieldwork in geography education, Debates in Geography Education, London: Routledge 171-184.
- Kinder, A. (2013) What is the contribution of school fieldwork to school geography? In D. Lambert, & M. Jones (Eds) Debates in Geography Education, London: Routledge.