Biological fieldwork provision in higher education
To link to this article DOI: 10.3108/beej.17.1
Fieldwork is regarded as an important component of many bioscience degree programmes. QAA benchmarks statements refer explicitly to the importance of fieldwork, although give no indication of amounts of field provision expected. Previous research has highlighted the importance of fieldwork to the learning of both subject-specific and transferable skills. However, it is unclear how the amount and type of fieldwork currently offered is being affected by the recent expansion in student numbers and current funding constraints. Here we review contemporary literature and report on the results of a questionnaire completed by bioscience tutors across 33 UK institutions. The results suggest, perhaps contrary to anecdotal evidence, that the amount of fieldwork being undertaken by students is not in decline and that on the whole, programmes contain reasonable amounts of fieldwork. The majority of programmes involved UK-based fieldwork, but a number of programmes also offered ‘exotic’ overseas fieldwork which was considered important in terms of student recruitment as well as exposing students to a diversity of field learning environments. Tutors were very clear about the benefits of fieldwork and the need to be proactive to maintain its provision.