Resource Database: Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Title Introductory Local Field Work with Large Classes
Originator Terry Slater
Department School of Geography, University of Birmingham, B15 2TT
Tel. +44 (0)121 414 5534
Fax. +44 (0)121 414 5528
E-mail t.r.slater@bham.ac.uk

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.

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.

Relevant References:

Keywords:

Field excursions
Fieldwork
Group work
Large student numbers
Townscape


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