1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Fieldwork has great importance in geography teaching since it allows many geographical phenomena to be observed on its own environment and be better perceived (TMNE, 2012; Article 14), real life experiences to be gained by turning theory into practice (Fuller, et al., 2006; Scott, et al., 2006), and thus leads to a better understanding of the real world (Fuller, 2006). Field is the laboratory of geographical research (Garipağaoğlu, 2001), and the utilization of this lab is possible through geographical field trips (Doğanay, 1993, 2002; Alkış, 2008; Kent, 1999).
n field trips, theoretical knowledge is put into practice (Gök and Girgin, 2001; Girgin, et al., 2003; Akbulut, 2004; Açıkgöz, 2006; Balcı, 2010a). Field trips also facilitate the teaching of concepts (Rudmann, 1994), increase permanence in learning (Balcı, 2010b), facilitate the acquisition of cognitive skills (Rudmann, 1994), and improve transferable skills (Scott, et al., 2006). In addition, geographical fieldwork allows students to improve their skills to make syntheses and assessments about concepts (Kızılçaoğlu, 2003; Akbulut, 2004); it also produces positive effects on students’ geographical expectations (Balcı, 2012), and ensures that students are in a permanent and enjoyable learning environment (Kent, et al., 1997). The importance of fieldwork in geography teaching has necessitated investigations to determine the self-efficacy perceptions of geography teacher candidates. Self-efficacy, in its shortest definition, refers to beliefs in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to produce given attainments (Bandura, 1986), or to one’s judgments or beliefs as to his/her capacity or performance (Bandura, 1977, 1994, 1997; Lee, 2005). In addition to these definitions, self-efficacy can also be described as: an individual’s response to questions such as “What can I do?” (Snyder and Lopez, 2002) or “Can I do this task?” (Donald, 2003); an individual’s self-confidence; an individual’s judgment about his/her confidence in his/her ability; or his/her belief formed through his/her experiences (Lee, 2005; Yılmaz and Köseoğlu, 2004).
Fieldwork, which can be defined as any curriculum component that involves leaving the classroom and engaging in teaching and learning activities through first-hand experience of phenomenal, has a long and firmly established place in British geography education. Linking to this tradition Alastair Bonnett3 asserts that “Geography wants to take children outside the schools and into the streets and fields … and into the rain or the sunshine” (p 80). The Geographical Association’s ‘manifesto’ for geography in schools, together with the Royal Geographical Society’s long standing and unwavering support for fieldwork, leaves us in no doubt that learning in the ‘real world’ is thought to be absolutely essential, contributing particular qualities that run through geography’s identity as a subject discipline: its commitment to exploration and enquiry, and its concern to discover and to be curious about the world. In the sciences too, fieldwork, as defined above, is crucial. It is sometimes likened to laboratory work such that ‘the field’ for geographers is the equivalent of ‘the lab’ for scientists. However, fieldwork is better regarded as a sub-set of practical science. As Duncan Hawley writes, “… there are differences. It is in the nature of laboratory and classroom experiments to separate objects from their environments … But in the ‘natural’ sciences it is only by putting objects and laws in particular contexts that we can see how they work in terms of empirical effects” (p 88). Thus, as one of the workshop participants put it, field work is one distinct component of learning science: “not all science happens in test tubes and young people need to realise this”. In both the sciences and geography there is abundant evidence to show that fieldwork is highly rated by students. Thus for example, Amos and Reiss6 report that out of eleven alternative strategies for learning science, ‘going on a science trip or excursion’ was rated by students as the most enjoyable way of learning and the fifth most useful and effective. In geography at all levels, including Higher Education, there is widespread agreement that fieldwork at its best can raise motivation, reduce anxiety about learning and encourage deeper rather than more surface approaches to learning. It frequently provides memorable experiences and commitment to seeing through an enquiry from start to finish, often reliant on working in teams and combining efforts.
There is a long history of fieldwork in geography qualifications for both 14-16 and 16-19 year-olds. This general statement, of course, covers a great deal of diversity and change over the years. Thus, in years prior to present day regulatory frameworks it was possible to undertake an individual fieldwork investigation at AS/A level that would contribute one-third of the final mark – externally marked with a sample of students even being examined orally. That was not the norm and is unlikely to be seen again although it is noted that following the introduction of GCSE in 1986 coursework was in some specifications worth up to 40% of the final mark. Today it is difficult to gain qualifications in geography at 16 or 19 with no fieldwork component although the weighting is now considerably less. Fieldwork is today part of ‘controlled assessment’ at GCSE (although, this can be avoided by schools that opt to take iGCSE examinations) and is an element of the skills paper for AS/A level. It is however the interest of this research is to find out the role of field in teaching and learning of geography.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The teaching of Geography contents in some discipline is not aimed at achieving the objectives of environmental education which border on awareness, knowledge, values, skills, attitudes and readiness to participate in workshops, seminars and conferences that are meant to address environmental issues. Only very few methods of teaching address these issues comprehensively, they include fieldwork, project method, drama method, etc. It is noticed that people resident in the area of study and its environs display nonchalant attitude towards environment. The poor attitude and recklessness is demonstrated in indiscriminate disposal of wastes, indiscriminate harvest of vegetal resources, quarrying gravels and sands, lack of proper town planning and land use system. There are national and international cries about environmental degradation resulting in ozone layer depletion, erosion, deforestation and indiscriminate disposal of wastes. These go a long way to affect human health and standard of living of the populace. This is because; people are ignorant of the effects of their activities on the environment. The world population is growing geometrically while resources are growing arithmetically. This growing population needs to be supported by the resources which are found in the environment. The poor handling of the environment, especially the farmland and farming affect food supply that is needed to support the teaming population. The growth of the population also is increasingly pressuring the environment and is affecting food supply. Conversely, if the environment is well catered for, it will support the teaming population. It was reported by Laleye, (2010) that 40% of all candidates failed grossly in June/July NECO SSCE 2010 in geography. This is a common phenomenon, in Nigeria secondary schools. Mass failure can be attributed to many things such as carelessness on the part of the candidates, poor expression, lack of coverage of syllabus, lack of good teaching method, among others. WAEC chief examiner s report (2007), clearly stated that field studies and investigations using primary and secondary sources are central to the geographical education and experience of all students. Similarly it was observed that SSCE candidates had poor approach to environmental issues therefore low marks were recorded with few examples. Even those who attempted to take their students on field work were to fulfill all righteousness since the performance in this area is very poor and weak (The Chief Examiner Report, 2002). There are many teaching methods that were used in teaching different field of study, but there is none that was identified as the best method of transmitting environmental philosophies and ideologies to the populace that interact with the environment. The problem therefore is the role of fieldwork in teaching and learning geograph.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The main objective of this study is basically to find out the role of fieldwork in teaching and learning geography. Specifically the study intends to:
1. Find out the role of fieldwork in teaching and learning of geography.
2. To investigate the effect of field work on students’ performance in geography courses
3. To find out the effects of fieldwork on students attitude toward geography in Niger state college of education
4. To discover the effects of field works on lecturers effectiveness in teaching geography course in Niger state college of education.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTION
The following research questions will guide the researcher to achieve the stated specific objective:
1. What is the role of field work in teaching and learning geography?
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