The Changing Nature of Fieldwork in Geography Higher Education: A 40-year Review

Authors: Derek France*, University of Chester, UK, Martin Haigh, Oxford Brookes University, UK.
Topics: Geography Education
Keywords: Fieldwork, Literature Review, Field-based Learning, Experiential Learning
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: 8210, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Fieldwork is the most powerful learning invitation in the toolkit of Geographical Education. This review of papers in The Journal of Geography in Higher Education (JGHE) suggests seven modes in the development of fieldwork. These are arrayed as a kind of historical, perhaps evolutionary, sequence but most remain current in Geography fieldwork practice. At the far end (1960’s) of the sequence are didactic modes that are teacher centred and use the field as an adjunct to the classroom, in the middle (1990’s) are modes that involve active learning and focus on the development of students as investigators, and at the near end (2010’s) are those that centred on the field study area and its qualities, that involve concern about the ethics of student engagement and that employ blended learning technologies. The review charts the JGHE’s gradual shift away from its original, almost exclusively, UK-focus toward something rather more international and inclusive. Fieldwork is where Geographers learn ‘from doing’ Geography to ‘do’ Geography. Its special attributes include providing experiential, sometimes transformative, learning through the immersion of the learner in the field experience. In 40 years, JGHE has helped Geography Fieldwork move from the margins of the curriculum to its current place at its core.

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