Database: Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
||Introductory Local Field Work with Large Classes
||School of Geography, University of Birmingham, B15 2TT
||+44 (0)121 414 5534
||+44 (0)121 414 5528
A Level-l first-semester module for 120-130 single honours students aims to introduce students to aspects of the human geography and planning of Birmingham. There are four learning outcomes:
A suite of eight lectures and a programme of reading provides the background for the project. Students are divided into groups of five, based on their tutorial groups. Three self-guided field excursions are provided for through written excursion guides and maps which also contain prompting questions. The field notes become progressively less detailed to encourage students to think for themselves about their observations of the townscape. The excursions explore the city-centre retail and commercial area, the Jewellery Quarter, and housing in the south west of the city around the university, including Bournville.
- Identification of the principal characteristics of the urban geography of the city in terms of patterns and built forms of housing, commerce, industry and central-place functions.
- An understanding of Birmingham in relation to models of the pre-industrial, industrial, Modern and post-Modern western city.
- An improved ability to observe the built townscape and understand processes of townscape change.
- Experience of the problems and possibilities of working in small groups to plan, undertake, and report on a programme of field studies related to the urban geography of Birmingham.
Assessment is by means of a single group project report for which all students in the group receive the same mark. This is satisfactory in the first year but would not be so in later years. Innovation and enterprise in presentations are encouraged and there are few prescriptive guidelines. The project report has to include a one-page group assessment on their effectiveness as a working unit to encourage reflective learning.
Some students find the lack of prescription threatening and perhaps 10 per cent of groups have some problems in operation; tutors and course surgeries provide advice for these students. Marking 25 reports is generally enjoyable and demonstrates the considerable effort most groups put into the work.
- Slater, T.R. (1993) Locality-based Studies
and the Enterprise Initiative, Journal of Geography in Higher Education,
17 (1), pp. 47-55
- Gerrard, A.J. and Slater, T.R. (Eds) (1996) Managing a Conurbation, Birmingham and its Region (Studley, Brewin Books)
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Page created 3 February 1997
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