Importance of fieldwork in Geography

Fieldwork in Norway

By Kelly Wakefield

One of the unique attributes that Geography has as a discipline is fieldwork.  UK students taking GCSE Geography will more than likely participate in some form of fieldwork as well as those studying A Level Geography.  At HE level the possibilities of where in the world the course you have chosen will take you is endless.  The position of fieldwork and its clear role as a basic principle of the geographical educational experience is discussed by Claire Herrick in her article ‘Lost in the field: ensuring student learning in the ‘threatened’ geography fieldtrip’ (Area, 2010).

Previous education literature has discussed the pedagogical importance of fieldwork and field trips whilst scrutinising its viability.  Herrick suggests that fieldwork can inspire a deep approach to learning and provide formative experiences.  However, strategies such as value for money and the lure of exotic fieldwork can sometimes diminish the initial pedagogical reasons for participating in the fieldwork.  In examining another area of education literature, a commentary by Tim Hall and Mick Healey entitled ‘Disabled students’ experiences of fieldwork’ (Area, 2005) highlights the importance of understanding all students needs whilst on fieldwork.  Both of these articles reinforce the importance of addressing which pedagogical approach is taken on fieldwork as well as the fantastic experience that geographic fieldwork can be.

‘Lost in the field: ensuring student learning in the ‘threatened’ geography fieldtrip.  Area (2010) 42, 1, p108-116

Disabled students’ experiences of fieldwork. Area (2005) 37, 4, p446-449

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