The Value of Field Work Graham Scott, Ray Goulder & Phil Wheeler
This talk describes: (1) How an integrated field/classroom approach has been developed for learning and teaching about plant and animal diversity.(2) A pilot study, devised to test by objective methods whether there are positive advantages in a field approach to learning about organism diversity
The integrated field/classroom day for pre-Certificate studentse.g. Learning about tree diversity at Dalby Forest Morning. Groups of students walked in the forest accompanied by a tutor and sparingly collected foliage samples from diverse trees. Afternoon. Students worked in forest classroom, identified trees using keys, with help from one another and from tutors Students individually listed the trees they had identified and made labelled and annotated drawings of three of them. Notebooks were handed in at the end of the day for marking.
Number of tree species identified and drawn by 52 pre-Certificate students at Dalby Forest Total n of tree species identified Conifers 18 Broad-leaved trees & shrubs 27 Total n of tree species drawn, labelled and annotated Conifers 12 Broad-leaved trees & shrubs 12
Positive student feedback on the integrated field/classroom day I think it’s important to consider that the field studies in 58007 Biological Diversity always included some related laboratory/indoor work – identifying & drawing specimens collected – and so it is hard to cleanly tease away the field work from the lab work. In terms of enjoyment, this is definitely preferable – to be able to view the organisms in their environment first hand and then apply that to what we see in the lab. Reference Goulder R & Scott GW (2009) Field study of plant diversity: extending the whole-class knowledge base through open-ended learning. Bioscience Education 14 , 2-10
Pilot Study for the objective evaluation of the value of field work for learning about biological diversity Aim. To compare learning about organism diversity by the integrated fieldwork/classroom approach with learning solely through classroom/laboratory work The learning exercise to be the sorting, identification, interpretation, drawing and labelling of invertebrate animals collected from natural environments • Freshwater invertebrates from a stream at Dalby Forest were collected in the field by the students and sorted, identified and drawn in the forest classroom. • Marine invertebrates from a sandy shore were collected by staff and preserved. Sorting, identification and drawing was done by students in a laboratory on campus.
Evaluation of long-term retention Ability to describe the sampling procedure Comparison between description of kick sampling in streams with sand sieving on a sandy shore P<0.05 (Wilcoxon matched pairs test) n=8 students Ability to recognize and interpret invertebrates Comparison between annotations of photographs of freshwater invertebrates from a stream with marine invertebrates from a sandy shore P>0.05 (Wilcoxon matched pairs test) n=8 students
Student perceptions of the exercises The eight students were asked in a post-exercise questionnaire: To relate their best memory of the exercises. All eight chose to describe an experience at Dalby Forest To relate their worst memory of the exercises. Sevenchose to refer to the laboratory exercise (one had no worst memory) Which of the exercises they found most difficult. 7 out of 8 referred to the laboratory exercise Which exercise they preferred. 7 out of 8 preferred the Dalby Forest exercise.