Resource Database: Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Title Water Quality Problems in Leeds
Originator Pauline Kneale
Department School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT
Tel. +44 (0)113 2333340
Fax +44 (0)113 2333308


Students are set the task of developing and testing hypotheses concerning water quality of the tributaries of the River Aire. In groups they have to then carry out field sampling, laboratory testing, data analysis, and complete a poster report and oral presentation. The whole unit lasts 5.5 weeks. The laboratory practical work is therefore part of a logical sequence of activities designed for environmental problem solving. It uses samples collected by the students. The outcome is not designed by staff.


Techniques included:

Management of laboratory access:

Laboratory induction is part of the initial six-day briefing period. Staff, three technical and one academic, set up demonstrations of all available methods around the laboratory. In a six-hour block student groups attend and move around the stations, learning how to use the equipment. They make decisions about the analyses appropriate to their hypotheses, and then book laboratory time, field equipment (time of collection and return), insurance cover, and complete a safety review, through the technicians, according to their project time management plan. For the week in which induction is taking place the main laboratory is entirely devoted to this course.


A group report of the field and laboratory work, which includes a diary and reflection on success with proposals for further work. A group poster which is explained in a brief oral presentation. Students assign the mark allocation within their own group.


Kneale P. (1996) Organizing student-centred group fieldwork and presentations, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 20(1), pp.65-74.


'Doing science'
Field work
Group work
Laboratory work
Water quality

This is one of the case studies which appears in the GDN Guide "Practicals and Laboratory Work in Geography"

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