In some cases it might be possible to substitute an alternative activity, which does not involve access to a specific field location. For example, a field project might involve making measurements of stones on bars within a river channel, in order to investigate the processes connected with downstream sediment transport, such as attrition and sorting. If the learning outcome involves field sampling, then it is perhaps necessary to visit field locations. But if the learning outcome is only in terms of making measurements and analysing data, the field visit is not strictly necessary. Samples of bedload from bars could be provided and measured in an accessible location. Similarly, if it is impossible to access a location at which questionnaires are to be carried out with members of the public as respondents, it might be possible to persuade some individuals to come to the student at a nearby accessible location so that the questionnaire can be conducted. Cooke et al. (1997) adopt this approach in an imaginative alternative to a geological field mapping exercise, in which rock samples are arranged on tables in the laboratory as a small-scale substitute for the field. Students measured the attitudes of the rocks, identified them, and drew contacts between them, before drawing an interpretative cross-section. Other illustrations of this kind of approach can be found in the case studies from the Open University and Portsmouth 2.
Page updated 14 December 2001
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© Geography Discipline Network/authors, 2001
ISBN: 1 86174 114 6