Prospective Teachers' View on Geography Fieldworks

Article excerpt

Abstract

The purposes of the study are to examine thoroughly the components to constitute individual perceptions of prospective teachers concerning important acquisitions of geography fieldworks and to facilitate its applicability as a teaching method through their own observations and suggestions, and in this context to obtain information about the nature of geography learning in fieldworks. 155 female (43%) and 207 male (57%) prospective teachers (n= 362) participated in the research. Obtained data were analyzed both qualitatively (i. e. inductive analysis) and quantitatively (i. e. Chi- square test). According to the results: (1) 4 main conceptual categories based on the prospective teachers' observations concerning the important acquisitions of fieldworks were identified. (2) 6 main conceptual categories based on the prospective teachers' facilitative suggestions for the application of fieldworks were identified. (3) Significant differences were not discovered between the principal categories of observations and suggestions with regard to the prospective teachers' gender. The study concludes that observation is a powerful research tool in determining, analyzing, and interpreting about prospective teachers' individual perceptions concerning fieldworks as a teaching method. The rationales behind this method are to improve the prospective teachers' communication skills through a broad range of contacts, their own life experiences, and more importantly encouraging their independent thinking.

Key Words

Geography Fieldworks; Brain-based Learning; Social Interaction; Self-regulated Learning Strategies; Prospective Teachers.

In today's globalized world, the fundamental principle of the current educational change is to develop innovative spirit and ability to implement innovative ideas. Innovation in education is mainly targeted at building lifelong learning awareness, self-improvement, learning methods of how to be successful people in life, raising innovative individuals who have leader spirit in community development and creating courageous entrepreneurs to implement their ideas. In this context, educators must guide their students to reach information and develop their skills of perception of change, managing, and organizing (Özgül, 2009, p. 2). Moreover, educators must focus on planning in geography education in order to take long-term measures to solve environmental challenges (Yilmaz, 1995, p. 263).

Defined fieldwork may include field teaching, field trip, field research or field camp (Dando & Wiedel, 1971, p. 291). The geography fieldworks should not be confused with picnics or short class excursions (Lewis, 1968, p. 53). Lonergan and Andreson defined fieldwork as any arena or zone within a subject which is outside the constraints of the four walls classroom setting where supervised learning can take place via first hand experience (Lonergan and Andreson, 1988, p. 64). Another definition was adopted by Gold et al. (1991, p. 85), who go on to categorize fieldwork into five types of activity: Short field excursion in limited time, tours in extended travel, residential courses in extended travel and time, multi-location activities, and project works. Much has been written on the use of fieldwork -in all its guises- in undergraduate geography degree programmes (Cottingham, Healey, & Gravestock, 2002). Being at the heart of geography (Gold et al., 1991, p. 85) and an essential component of undergraduate education in geography (Haigh and Gold, 1993, p. 30; Kent, Gilbertson, & Hunt, 1997, p. 320), fieldworks are perceived by many geographers in these ways. Not only it is considered essential, but also it is considered by both academics and students to be an extremely effective and enjoyable learning and teaching method (Fuller, Gaskin, & Scott, 2003, p. 96; Gerber, 2000, p. 199), and as intrinsic to the discipline as clinical practice is to medicine (Bligh, 1975, p. 67). Stoddart and Adams (2004, p. …