Saturday, February 18, 2012

Field work


Field research, also known as field work, is the collection of raw data in natural settings.


The deductive method:

The deductive method works from the more general to the  specific. For example, we may beginwith a theory about expected downstream changes in river channel characteristics. We then narrow that down into more specific hypotheses that we can test. We narrow down even further when we collect data to address the hypotheses. This ultimately leads us to be able to test the hypotheses with specific data - a confirmation of the original theory.

´╗┐The inductive method:

Inductive reasoning works the other way round, moving from specific observations to broader generalizations and theories. This approach works well with many issues-based studies, for example, an investigation of the impact of urban renewal schemes in inner-city Barcelona. In inductive reasoning, we begin with the exploration of an area, recording specific observations and data. An analysis of the data enables the identification of patterns and the formulation of some tentative hypotheses that we can explore. The inductive approach ends with the development of some general conclusions or theories.

The usefulness of fieldwork:
  • Improving observation skills and a better understanding of the processes that contributed to the development of environmental features.
  • Experiential learning: fieldwork provides opportunities to learn through direct, concrete experiences, enhancing the understanding that comes from observing 'real world' manifestations of abstract geographical concepts and processes.
  • Increasing geographical interest through interacting with the environment.
  • Directly involving students in responsibility for learning: fieldwork requires that students plan and carry out learning in an independent manner.
  • Developing and applying analytical skills: fieldwork relies on a range of skills, many of which are not used in the classroom.
  • Experiencing real-life research: developing investigative, communicative and participatory skills.
  • Developing environmental ethics and increasing the appreciation of the aesthetic qualities of the biophysical and built environments.
  • Teamwork: fieldwork experiences provide an important teamwork element, with social benefits derived from working cooperatively with others in a setting outside the classroom.
  • Skill development: observation, synthesis, evaluation, reasoning, instrumentation skills, practical problem solving, adaptability to new demands that call upon creative solutions, etc.
  • Uses of technology: applying technology to investigate problems and issues. 
  • U.K. Key Skill development, namely communication, application of number, information technology, working with others, improving own learning performance and problem solving.
Effective fieldwork:

To be effective fieldwork should:
  • be well planned, interesting, cost effective and represent an effective use of the time available
  • target specific syllabus and topic outcomes
  • provide opportunities for students to develop a range of cognitive and manipulative skills
  • be integrated with the subject matter to ensure that students take full advantage of enhanced understanding that is achieved through direct observation, data collection/recording and inquiry learning.
  • be supported by pre-and post-excursion classroom activities that establish the context for learning and provide the necessary follow-up and reinforcement.


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