Illustration 2: A checklist for undertaking fieldwork
This illustration of practice is designed to assist you in covering the appropriate elements for establishing a fieldwork activity for your class.
A checklist for undertaking fieldwork is provided to assist you in planning and implementing successful fieldwork. It includes seven staged organisational areas:
- Identifying the fieldwork activity
- Seeking permission to undertake fieldwork – dealing with school administration
- Planning the student activity
- Preparing the students – the lesson prior to the fieldwork
- The fieldwork day
- Reporting on the fieldwork experience
- Taking action.
It is important to be aware that each school has its own system, and so some flexibility may be required when using the checklist provided here. You and other geographers may want to develop your own standardised checklist relevant to your school context.
Fieldwork should be a 'great day out' – a day where students see the obvious and think about the hidden. Comprehensive organisation 'behind the scenes' will make sure everything goes well on the day.
The planning and decision-making stages of fieldwork will typically take about three or four months. A checklist for fieldwork accessed over this period will ensure everything is in order.
The checklist for undertaking fieldwork provides guidance to ensure that you are relating your fieldwork activity to the curriculum, that the school administration sees the need for fieldwork, and that you are organised for the activity with regard to both the site/s and the student activities to be undertaken.
Don't forget to reflect on and celebrate the successes after the fieldtrip.
Questions for discussion
- Is fieldwork worth the time and effort needed in preparation?
- How can the school systems be best streamlined to avoid excessive delay in the decision-making processes?
- How much time needs to be spent on pre-fieldwork activities to ensure the success of the experience?
- Where can we access some assistance if all of this seems too hard initially?
- What is 'good' fieldwork for this group of students?
Questions for reflection
- After the fieldwork activity, review the activity and decide what can be done differently next time to make the most of the fieldwork experience.
- Is this fieldwork activity worth maintaining in the curriculum? Did it clearly meet the conceptual understandings, the general capabilities and the cross-curriculum priorities?
- Did the students gain as much from the experience as they might? If not, what aspects in the planning can be strengthened to give a greater learning focus to the fieldwork?
- Are there any fieldwork skills that need classroom reinforcement?
- What highlights can be identified? Were there any 'light-bulb moments' that made you proud to be a geographer?
Bourke, M. (2003). A guide to fieldwork in geography. Camberwell: Geography Teachers' Association of Victoria Inc.
Greasley, B. (1988). Project fieldwork. London: Unwin Hyman Ltd.
Kleeman, G. (Ed.). (2008). Keys to fieldwork: Essential skills & tools. South Yarra: Macmillan.