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Fieldwork is Good: the Student Perception and the Affective Domain

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This paper reports on research that investigates the effectiveness of residential field courses in geography, earth science and environmental science courses at UK institutions of higher education. The research focuses on the effects of fieldwork in the affective domain, which is thought to be linked to the adoption of effective approaches to learning. Approximately 300 students were surveyed immediately before and after a field class, enabling analysis of changes in responses brought about as a result of the field experience. Potential differences were looked for between groups of students determined by gender, age, previous experience of fieldwork and place of residence. The research finds that fieldwork leads to significant effects in the affective domain. In general, student responses were very positive prior to fieldwork and became more positive as a result of the field experience. Some groups exhibited higher levels of anxiety about this learning method prior to the field class; however, such differences were mitigated by the field experience. This study concludes that fieldwork is good.

Keywords: Fieldwork; Likert-scale statistics; affective domain; group work

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Earth & Ocean Sciences, University of Liverpool, UK 2: Staff Development Unit, University of Ulster, UK 3: School of Development Studies, University of East Anglia, UK 4: School of Biological and Earth Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, UK 5: School of Maritime and Coastal Studies, Southampton Solent University, UK 6: School of Health, Community and Education Studies, Northumbria University, UK 7: Centre for Higher Education Development, Coventry University, UK 8: School of Built & Natural Environment, Glasgow Caledonian University, UK 9: Department of Psychology, University of Liverpool, UK

Publication date: May 1, 2007

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