2. Fostering geographical inquiry and fieldwork


2.3 Support students to undertake inquiry in the field, and to select and use fieldwork tools and techniques appropriately, safely and efficiently. Tools may range from simple purpose-built equipment to digital and video cameras, GIS and environmental sensors.

Focus question:
  • What should be the role of fieldwork and ICTs in inquiry learning?
Further questions:
  • Where might teachers obtain both simple and more sophisticated fieldwork equipment?
  • How can newer technologies be incorporated when undertaking fieldwork?
  • Should fieldwork be conducted individually or in groups?
  • What factors do you consider when organising student groupings?
Samples of practice

(a) Backdrop:
In this sample of accomplished teaching practice with a Year 9 class, the teacher describes in a pre-lesson interview, the importance of beginning with a fieldwork visit to a location with which the students are likely to be familiar. As the students prepare to undertake the fieldwork, how does it correspond with the teacher’s overall aims for inquiry in the field? What two inquiry skills does he intend to emphasize?

play video iconClick here to view this video sample

(b) Backdrop:
In this sample of accomplished teaching practice with a Year 9 class, the same teacher who is interviewed in the pre-lesson segment, above, describes in a series of post-lesson interviews, the importance of fieldwork in the teaching of geography. What are the elements that he emphasises in each of the four segments? Why does he maintain that this form of teaching is “more effective overall”?

play video iconClick here to view this video sample

play video iconClick here to view this video sample

Further links and resources

Book iconKleeman G. (ed) (2009) Keys to Fieldwork. Melbourne: Australian Geography Teachers’ Association Inc.
This book is written by some of Australia’s leading geography teachers and provides comprehensive explanation of selected fieldwork activities and the geographical skills and tools needed for them to be undertaken. It includes student-friendly methods and step-by-step explanations. The book aims to extend students geographic skills beyond the classroom. It also includes a wide range of stimulus material – maps, diagrams, graphs and photographs.
ISBN: 9781420224733

For further information go to: http://www.agta.asn.au/resources/index.htm
(Accessed April 2010)

Description of the place of fieldwork:
“The oldest traditions in geography of exploration, discovery and fieldwork all involve observation and collection of data and information about the interplay of place, space and systems. Matthews and Herbert (2008, p.10) encapsulate the following geographical skills in fieldwork: discovery, exploration, observation and experimentation, field monitoring, environmental monitoring, and qualitative assessment. Other studies highlight that fieldwork develops numeracy, analytical thinking skills, oracy, graphicacy, literacy, and a sense of place.”
Sorensen, L. (2009) Literature Review - for the National Geography Curriculum. Geographical Education 22: 14

See also:
Bliss, S. (2009) Fieldwork the heart of geography. Geography Bulletin 41(1): 7-11

Matthews, J. & Herbert, D. (2008) Geography: A very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press  

 
1. Knowing geography and geography curriculum
Accomplished geography teachers: 
2. Fostering geographical inquiry and fieldwork
Accomplished geography teachers:
3. Developing geographical thinking and communication
Accomplished geography teachers:
4. Understanding students and their communities
Accomplished geography teachers:
5. Establishing a safe, supportive and intellectually challenging learning environment

Accomplished geography teachers:


6. Understanding geography teaching – pedagogical practices
Accomplished geography teachers:
7. Planning, assessing and reporting

Accomplished geography teachers:


8. Progressing professional growth and development

Accomplished geography teachers:

9. Learning and working collegially

Accomplished geography teachers: