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EFFECTS OF FIELD EXCURSION ON THE TEACHING OF GEOGRAPHY
1.1 Background to the Study
Fieldtrip is the laboratory for geographers because; it allows the empirical verification of spatial phenomena. Hence, theory without practical work is meaningless. Field work is defined as a means of getting a firsthand experience of the environment by practical work stimulated by curiously discovery (Archer and Dalton; 2005, 2007). Emphasis must necessarily be on field observation to gain firsthand knowledge of the real world. Fieldtrip is very serious and rigorous work done on the field to buttress the normal classroom activities it uses the field as its laboratory or testing ground.
One of the ways of understanding the nature of geography is by going into the field (Anthony, 2010). The field is the primary source of data in geography. Sada (1975) noted the field is the geography seeks to account for what exist in the field as systematically to analyze the relationships of spatial phenomena. It is essential for geographers. There is no better way of developing the power of ‘road’ the landscape than by fieldwork. In the training of geographers, the first principle that must be affirmed is the ground and not the map, the map is the primary document. Curry (2014) asserted that “Virtually all lecturers in geography recognize the importance of fieldwork as a vital mode of teaching in the subject.
Lonergan and Anderson (1988) asserted that “effective learning cannot be expected just because we take students into the field”. They added that fieldwork is widely regarded as an essential part of undergraduate education in geography and lecturers generally agree that if represents one of the most effective and enjoyable forms of teaching and learning for both staff and students. Field studies provide the opportunity to experiment with a wide variety of different modes of course delivery and have a valuable role as a vehicle for the integration of many theoretical and practical concepts taught within a geographical degree (Kern et al., 2006). Field experience is also seen as vital for the development of studies as qualified practitioners in all aspect of geography (Gold, 2007). The early role and continuity significance of the field studies council in this respect deserves mention (Barrett, 1987). Gardiner (2015) has stressed the dynamic nature of approaches to fieldwork teaching andc the need for both staff and students to adapt to change.
Lonergan and Anderson (2009) defined fieldwork as “activities where learning can take place via first hand experience outside the constraints of the classroom setting”. DFES (2006) pointed out that “by helping young people apply their knowledge, utilize their discovery skills and gain first hand experiences across a range of challenges outside the classroom, learning will be enhanced. They added that “learning outside the classroom builds bridges between theory and reality, schools and communities, young people and their futures”. This strongly supports the importance, value and purpose of geography fieldwork in education and indeed is a useful argument for overcoming barriers to undertaking geographical fieldwork in schools.
One major educational problem is preparing young people to cope with the environment. This is what geography as a subject tends to emphasized. Over the years, geography teachers have expressed deep concern over this unfortunate trend of our time and unless something is done the position of geography in the schools curriculum maybe jeopardized. One of the most interesting features in teaching and learning of geography has been the inclusion of fieldwork.
According to Ikem (2002) geography in its totality requires that the teacher should empty out of school teaching techniques popularly known as fieldwork so as make learning comprehensive, meaningful, stimulating and dynamic. Fieldwork in geography is an integral part of the geography course during school hours and out of school where this is appropriate. A study of both senior secondary geography curriculum and the West African Examinations Syllabus shows that a high status is now attached to fieldwork.
Geography as a secondary school subject aims at helping leaner’s understand their immediate environment as well as that of the universe. This cannot happen in rigidly planned classroom activities where the teacher and the textbook are the only source of information. Instead the new system calls for the teacher to be innovative and be able to bring about life in the lesson. Learners must be able to give some explanations on what they see on the landscape. The only way of achieving this aim is by taking learners out of the wails of the classroom to the place to the place where they will experience a direct contact with the landscape. By so doing, learners will learn by doing and observing. Rogers et al., (2013: 182) summarize this view by stating that the laboratory for geography lessons is on the field. They further stress that through fieldwork learners are made aware of essential aspects of geography as a discipline of discovering the facts about the place, of synthesizing them and endeavouring to explain them. The discussion above has called for an examination of teaching methods in schools so as to establish the extent to which they encourage learners to be curious about what they see. On the basis of this it becomes a great concern to examine critically the factors influencing the use of fieldtrip in the teaching of geography in secondary schools in Delta State using the three (3) Senatorial District (Warri, Ughelli and Asaba) as a case study.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
It has been observed that fieldtrip teaching method is not regularly used by geography teacher at secondary school, level despite the fact that this is one of the teaching methods that concretized learning in geography.
This maybe due to factors given such as lack of time, inadequate finance, organization, transportation of students, large size of students, population and so on. Saver as cited by Gold and Jenkins (2008: 22) declares that the principal training of the geographers should come, wherever possible, by doing fieldwork. Many others, from all level of geographical education, have strongly articulated similar views. Much of this literature, however, consists either of general philosophical treatises on the value of fieldwork or specifically relates to individual exercises. The educational aims and objectives of fieldwork are rarely examined and there is very little evaluation of outcomes of field excursion. This means that there is virtually nothing or very little information available for a new geography teacher needing guidance on how to justify and design a field excursion. Geographers have long regarded fieldwork as being central to their teaching, research, and as something intrinsic to the very nature of being a geographer. Gold and Jenkins (2008:21) argue that fieldwork is as rooted to the subject geography as clinical practice is to medicine. Teaching of geography without fieldwork feigns the interaction of person and the environment. A grave disservice to the subject is thus rendered. The researcher’s experience is that fieldwork has been neglected in the teaching of geography especially in secondary schools. Their past experience as a geography teacher at secondary school during their teaching practice (TP) days is that very little is done to develop fieldwork. Indeed many schools do undertake fieldtrips that are normally called “trips of the year”. These trips usually take place towards the ends of the academic year when normal classroom sessions have ceased and learners are only waiting to write examinations. Usually there are no goals stated for such trips, no purpose given and no follow-up is made. Yet the researchers believes that such outings could be used for more educational benefits especially by geography teachers. Failure to use these outings productive leads to shallowness in the learners’ understanding and in their perception of the spatial phenomena. They are “told” about the nature and denied the real experience. A practical subject maybe reduced to abstraction with learners resorting to late learning and lacking initiative, creativity and purposefulness. The absence of these traits in individuals could lead to a society that is not self-reliant. It is therefore, the intention of the researchers to examine these factors if they are influenced by the use of fieldwork in teaching geography at the secondary schools in Delta State especially in Warri, Ughelli and Asaba.
1.3 Research Question
In this study the following questions will direct the research work:-
1. Are there factors influencing the use of fieldtrip in the teaching of geography in secondary schools?
2. What are the relevance of fieldtrip in the teaching of geography in secondary schools?
3. Is time a factor that affects fieldtrip?
4. Is finance an obstacle to the use of fieldtrip in the teaching of geography?
5. Is choosing a place for fieldwork a problem when organizing fieldwork?
6. Is transportation a major problem, when using fieldtrip as a method of teaching geography?
7. Is the size of students a problem when planning a fieldtrip?
1.4 Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to intensively look at the factors influencing the use of fieldtrip in the teaching of geography in secondary schools within the three (3) Senatorial District (Warri, Ughelli and Asaba) in Delta State. In order to achieve the above stated purpose of this study, the researchers designed the following objectives;
1. To find out the factors influencing the use of fieldtrip in the teaching of geography.
2. To find out the relevance of fieldtrip in the following of geography in secondary schools.
3. To identify the problems of fieldtrip in the teaching of geography.
4. To ascertain the process of planning a fieldtrip.
5. To suggest possible ways of improving the teaching of geography through the use of fieldtrip.
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following research hypotheses formulated to guide this study will be tested accordingly with appropriate statistical tools. The researcher stated the hypotheses in a null form with the intension of rejected it.
1. There is no significant factor influencing the use of fieldtrip in the teaching of geography in secondary schools.
2. Fieldtrip is not relevant in the teaching of geography in secondary schools.
3. Time is not a major factor that affects fieldtrip.
4. Finance is not an obstacle to the use of fieldtrip in the teaching of geography.
5. Choosing a place for fieldwork is not a major problem when organizing fieldwork.
6. Transportation is not a major problem, when using fieldtrip as a method of teaching geography.
7. Size of students is not major a problem when planning a fieldtrip.
1.5 Significance of the Study
The study of the factors influencing the use of fieldtrip in the teaching of geography in senior secondary schools classes in Delta State to include Warri, Ughelli and Asaba will be of benefit to the various schools in the locality and to the public at large.
Literature abounds on fieldwork dating as for back as the work by Jones (1968: 15-30) which put more emphasis on the purpose of fieldwork and the forms of fieldwork both in primary and secondary schools. Kriel (2009:20-45) looked at the effectiveness of fieldwork at secondary schools, Gold and Jenkins (2008: 21-35) concentrated on the origins and Lambert (2011: 22-47) discussed how fieldwork features in environmental education. The review of this literature reveals that very little has been done on the factors influencing the use of fieldtrip in the teaching of geography in secondary schools. This study, therefore, attempts to fill that void. The researchers chose to undertake the research study in secondary schools firstly, because of their past teaching experience at secondary schools during their teaching practice (T.P) days which revealed how neglected fieldtrip was, in the teaching of geography. The so-called educational excursions were undertaken mainly for recreational rather than educational purposes. The researchers seeks to find a way of making teachers more aware of the value of find a way of making teachers more aware of the value of fieldwork and by so doing motivate them to engage rigorously in fieldtrip.
The result of the investigation will help the principals and planners to determine if the curriculum for geography I well implemented. The findings will also help reveal the factors influencing the use of fieldwork in teaching of geography in secondary schools in Delta State especially in Warri, Ughelli and Asaba, and suggest ways of overcoming them. The result of the study will also create curiosity in the minds of those concerned with geography towards further research. Also the study is aimed at finding out if there is the need of geography teachers been retained in some specific areas in fieldwork as to help broaden the teachers knowledge in teaching of geography in the area. The findings would enable individual schools authorities participate in geographical fieldwork.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study of the research covered the factors influencing the use of fieldtrip in the teaching of geography in secondary schools using the three (3) Senatorial Districts (Warri, Ughelli and Asaba) in Delta State as a case study.
The study was limited to secondary schools teaching geography in Delta State especially in the three (3) Senatorial Districts (Warri, Ughelli and Asaba). The focus was on Warri (Delta Central), Ughelli (Delta South) and Asaba (Delta North) which are drawn to represent the three (3) Senatorial Districts in Delta State. Due to the fact that these districts were sparsely districted, the researchers decided to concentrate on Warri, Ughelli and Asaba region because of their accessibility. The secondary schools covered include:
1. Government College, Ughelli.
2. Government College, Warri.
3. St. Patrick College, Asaba.
4. Ughelli Grammar School, Ughelli.
5. Classical International Academy, Warri.
6. Asaba Girl’s Secondary School, Asaba.
1.7 Limitations of the Study
The research project was limited by lack of homogeneity of the sample. Geography teachers in secondary schools had varying experiences and qualifications ranging from matriculation with three year teaching diploma to a Bachelor’s degree. In some cases, other teachers taught geography even if they had not done it either at university or college of education. Other limiting factors were;
Ø The limited number of schools to be visited due to the lack of fund.
Ø The scarcity of primary and secondary resources materials based on fieldwork in secondary schools.
Ø The area of study is not large enough and the result cannot therefore be generalized.
Ø The attitude of the teachers in responding to questionnaires was not friendly.
1.8 Definition of Terms
The researchers decided to assign meaning to the following terms for the purpose of clarity in this research work:
Ø Fieldwork: Research or study or any educational activity that takes places outside the classroom.
Ø Fieldtrip: A journey made by a group of people, often students, to study something in its natural environment.
Ø Integral: To make something complete or essential.
Ø Jeopardized: To cause something to be harmed, lost or destroyed.
Ø Outcomes Based Education (OBE): This is a flexible empowerment oriented approach to learning (Bhengu, 1997: 21).
Ø Secondary School: A school for young people between the ages of 11 and 16 or 18.
Ø Teacher: A teacher is a competent person who performs the educative act of teaching.
Ø Factors: One of several things that cause or influence something.
Ø Influence: The effect that somebody or something has on the way a person thinks or behaves or on the way that something works or develops.
Ø Geography: The scientific study of earth’s surface, physical features, divisions, population etc.
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