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Geographical enquiry fieldwork. drs. Katie Oost In cooperation with dr. Bregje de Vries (HAN University of Applied Sciences) and prof. dr. Joop van der Schee (VU Amsterdam). Why fieldwork?. Empirical research is not widespread Effect on long term memory (?)

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geographical enquiry fieldwork
Geographical enquiry fieldwork

drs. Katie Oost

In cooperation with dr. Bregje de Vries (HAN University of Applied Sciences) and prof. dr. Joop van der Schee (VU Amsterdam)

why fieldwork
Why fieldwork?
  • Empirical research is not widespread
  • Effect on long term memory (?)
  • Positive effect on:> short term learning> attitude> interpersonal and social development
  • Higher order learning / ‘deep learning’
  • Students like fieldwork as a change from ‘normal’ lessons

(o.a. Caton, 2006; Foskett, 1997; Hattie, 2009; Hill & Woodland, 2002; Job, Day & Smyth, 1999; Kinder, 2013; Oost, K., De Vries, B. & Van der Schee (2011); Scott, Fuller & Gaskin, 2006)

fieldwork strategies and the role of student and teacher
Fieldwork strategies and the role of student and teacher

Uit: Oost, K., De Vries, B. & Van der Schee (2011)

geographical enquiry fieldwork1
Geographical enquiry fieldwork

A learning activity consisting of three phases – preparation, work outside and debriefing – during which students actively enquire geographical processes and phenomenon in the real world and make meaning in the process (linking theory to practice)

(based on: Job et al, 1999; Roberts, 2003)


essential for enquiry fieldwork
Essential for enquiry fieldwork
  • Structural integration > national, school curriculum, classroom
  • (More) student centered: framed or negotiated (Roberts, 2003)
  • Activating prior knowledge, experiences and valuations
  • Aimed at making meaning: linking T to P
  • Thorough preparation and debriefing with students
  • Work with core curriculum (Applebee, 1994)
  • Open classroom dialogue with students (o.a. Barnes, 2008; Burbules, 1993; Mercer, Dawes, Wegerif & Sams, 2004)

>>>> Fieldwork can be done on large scale, but also on a small scale!

Students involved with whole person

Positive influence on motivation

Student becomes more the owner of learning process

Meaningfull learning becomes more probable, thus are understanding and remembering


Main question: how does the scenario help teachers to integrate enquiry fieldwork in classroom practice?

Performed in the tradition of Educational Design Research (EDR)

Involves prototyping in two iterative design and evaluation cycles to optimize the scenario for fieldwork

Nine teachers participated in two iterative cycles


Basic thoughts

To help teachers design enquiry fieldwork

Integrated in classroom practice

Small scale

Directions for the design of three fieldwork phases:- Preparation lesson- Work in the field = homework assignment (enquiry) = active- Debriefing lesson

Tools/way of working

  • Mind map around core concept(Ausubel, 1960, 1978; Buzan & Buzan, 2011; Novak, 2002; Novak & Cañas, 2007)
  • Open classroom dialogue
  • Work in the field: active gathering data and experiences
  • In debriefing: exchange of fieldwork findings
  • Making meaning by linking the concepts from geography books (theory) to field findings (practice)
role of mind map
Role of mind map

Teacher - expert mind map

To define core curriculum around core concept

In preparation lesson: brainstorm > mind map 1

Activating prior knowledge, experiences and valuations with students around core concept

In debriefing lesson: mind map 1 > mind map 2

Linking field experiences (practice) to mind map 1 and relating these to theory

Getting insight into missconcepts

Mind map as platform for classroom dialogue!

open dialogue
Open dialogue
  • Open questioning
  • Give students enough time to articulate their thoughts and answer the question
  • Stimulate the thinking along of all students:- letting them react on each other- asking what other students think- asking if they can elaborate- asking if they think the same of differently- letting them ask each other questions

To help teachers doing this: working with sentence starters


Mind map of a student, one made in the preparation lesson, and the other in the debriefing lesson

preliminary results
Preliminary results
  • Teachers like to use the scenario (also in the future)
  • The scenario is doable and can be easily integrated in classroom practice
  • Mind map:- teachers find it a useful tool - mind map functions as platform for classroom dialogue- sentence starters help teachers asking more open questions and follow through questionsBut:- an open dialogue does not yet develop - mainly the teacher does the talking (as expert)- students’ answers are mainly short- students do not react on each others answers

Fieldwork can be done small scale

Perform small scale fieldwork more often

Integrate it into classroom practice

More information:

Katie Oost,

  • Applebee, A.N. (1994). Toward Thoughtful Curriculum: Fostering Discipline-Based Conversation. The English Journal, 83(3), 45-52.
  • Ausubel, D.P. (1960). The use of advance organizers in the learning and retention of meaningful verbal material. Journal of Educational Psychology, 51(5), 267-272. doi: 10.1037/h0046669
  • Ausubel, D.P. (1978). In Defense of Advance Organizers: A Reply to the Critics. Review of Educational Research, 48, 2, 251-7.
  • Barnes, D. (2008). Exploratory Talk for Learning. In: Mercer, N. & Hodgkinson, S. (2008). Exploring Talk in School, 1-15. London: Sage Publications Ltd.
  • Burbules, N.C. (1993). Dialogue in teaching. Theory and Practice. Advances in Contemporary Educational Thought, Volume 10. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Buzan, T. & Buzan, B. (2011). Mindmappen. Vergroot je creativiteit, verbeter je geheugen, verander je leven. Amsterdam: Pearson Education Benelux.
  • Caton, D. (2006). Real world learning through geographical fieldwork. In D. Balderstone (Ed.),
  • Secondary geography handbook (pp. 60–71). Sheffield: Geographical Association.
  • Foskett, N. (1997). Teaching and learning through fieldwork. In D. Tilbury & M. Williams (Eds.), Teaching and learning geography (pp. 189–201). London & New York: Routledge.
  • Hattie, J. (2009). Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. New York: Routledge.
  • Hill, J., & Woodland, W. (2002). An evaluation of foreign fieldwork in promoting deep learning: A preliminary investigation. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 27(6), 539–555.
  • Job, D., Day, C., & Smyth, T. (1999). Beyond the Bikesheds – Fresh approaches to fieldwork in the school locality. Sheffield: The Geography Association.
  • Kinder, A. (2013). What is the contribution of fieldwork to school geography? In: D. Lambert & M. Jones (eds). Debates in Geography Education. Abington, Oxon: Routledge.
  • Mercer, N., Dawes, L., Wegerif, R. & Sams, C. (2004). Reasoning as a scientist: ways of helping children to use language to learn science. British Educational Research Journal, 30(3), 359-377. DOI:10.1080/01411920410001689689
  • Mercer, N., Wegerif R. & Dawes, L. (1999). Children's Talk and the Development of Reasoning in the Classroom. British Educational Research Journal, 25(1), 95-111. DOI:10.1080/0141192990250107
  • Novak, J.D. (2002). Meaningful learning: The essential factor for conceptual change in limited or inappropriate propositional hierarchies leading to empowerment of learners, Science Education 86, (4), 548–571.
  • Novak, J.D. & Cañas, A.J. (2007). Theoretical Origins of concept Maps, How to Construct Them, and Uses in Education. Reflecting Education, 3(1), 29-42. London: WLE Centre, Institute of Education.
  • Oost, K., De Vries, B. & Van der Schee, J.A. (2011). Enquiry-driven fieldwork as a rich and powerful teaching strategy – school practices in secondary geography education in the Netherlands. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, (20)4, 309-325.
  • Roberts, M. (2003). Learning through enquiry: Making sense of geography in the key stage 3
  • classroom. Sheffield: Geographical Association.
  • Scott, I., Fuller, I., & Gaskin, S. (2006). Life without fieldwork: Some lecturers’ perceptions of geography and environmental science fieldwork. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 30( 1), 161–171.