From Classroom to the Field and Back: Understanding the Ways Fieldwork Empowers Geographic Learning, pp. 6 of 7

Back to classroom: Making sense of the fieldwork

After the successful completion of fieldwork, compiling the information, making sense of data collected, connecting to concepts and critically analyzing the larger process of doing fieldwork became essential. During the regular classroom session, students shared their experiences of dong fieldwork and using methods to probe concepts beyond the classroom context. It became evident that the larger process of doing fieldwork enhanced their understanding of the concepts, their applicability in relation to Singapore and added critical spatial perspectives to their conceptual understanding. Through fieldwork, “students were able to identify features that were common and different” (Ho & Seow; 2013, pp 38) from the concepts in the classroom. As the students of this course on urban geography need to write a research assignment with strong theoretical underpinning, this fieldwork may have provided an opportunity for students to relate their critical conceptual understanding and enrich their assignment. There have been ongoing discussions in relation to adoption of new learning tools and technologies in geographic fieldwork.  Therefore, we discussed the possibility of making a social networking site in relation to the fieldwork in urban geography course so that students could document their fieldwork experiences online and share them with fellow classmates.

Conclusion

The idea of this geography fieldwork was primarily to link classroom concepts to real-world experience and to learn from everyday urban practices. Students were able to use this fieldwork as a test-bed for observing concepts in the real world and analyze their applicability and complexity in relation to the Singapore context. Beyond understanding concepts in a real-world environment, the fieldwork helped students learn about conducting fieldwork, working as a team, and applying geographical methods and related skills. As an instructor, this fieldwork also helped me better understand the ways local fieldwork (as part of ongoing coursework) could help students understand geographic concepts better and thereby enhance an overall inquiry based approach to learning.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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