Resource Database: Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Title A Fieldwork Enquiry - Planning Issues in Tavistock: traffic and transport proposals
Originator Derry Corey, Sue Burkill and Rob Bartram
Department Geography Department, University College of St Mark & St John, Plymouth
Tel. +44 (0)1752 777188

The philosophy underlying fieldwork at the University of St Mark & St John is epitomised by the aphorism highlighted in Lee (1992) "tell me I forget, show me I remember, involve me I understand". We are also in accord with McEwen (1996) in that we believe fieldwork should be an integral part of a taught module and should re-enforce concepts and ideas taught in formal lectures and seminars.

Human geography fieldwork at the University of St Mark & St John has recently focused on an issue-based approach. In 1997, 75 first year students used a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods to investigate a planning proposal in Tavistock which had been part of a local transportation study. The students were required to report back on these both verbally and in a report format.

Prior to the fieldwork the focus for the lectures was transport in crisis. In seminars students were introduced to a range of research methodologies including questionnaires, in-depth interviews, focus groups and land evaluation surveys. In the field students worked in groups of 4 - 6 and used one of the above methods in depth. However, in their verbal feedback and written reports they had to include all four methods thus demonstrating an understanding of each.

In conclusion, this fieldwork has been beneficial in developing traditional skills of data collection and analyses. It has also enhanced other transferable skills of undergraduates such as oral communication, report writing and group work.

The gains were an introduction to research methods which will be reinforced in years 2 and 3.

Losses: In-depth surveys of this nature could be difficult to repeat each year.


Communication skills
Group work
Qualitative methodologies
Student empowerment

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Page created 22 December 1997
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