Assessing the Implementation of Fieldwork in the Teaching of Geography in Some Senior Secondary Schools in Kano, Nigeria

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ABSTRACT

Geographical field work has been argued to be particularly useful in the development of insight, attainment of cognitive/intellectual, technical achievements and development of empathy in students. In view of this argument therefore geographical field work becomes an inalienable and corporate part of teaching and learning process in schools. The study therefore assesses the implementation of fieldwork in some senior secondary schools in Kano state. Stratified random sampling was used to select 10 schools out of the 34 public senior secondary in the metropolitan area. Teachers‟ and students formed the sampling frame for the study. All the geography teachers in the selected schools were use as samples since their number is not large. This way a total of 37 geography teachers were selected for the study. Stratified random sampling was employed to select 50 students from six schools out of the ten sampled schools. Data was gotten through the participant observation and administration of questionnaire to the samples. The students were pre tested on some selected concepts in physical geography before going to the field. The pre and the post fieldwork tests were analysed using mean, standard deviation and analysis of variance. The result show significant difference in the mean scores of students for the pre and post test scores. The study found among other things, that the field work was better in enhancing students understanding of geographical concepts and appreciation of the natural environment; it was also found that the involvement of students in group work was seen as a step in the development of leadership roles amongst them. Some of the major constraints to the effective implementation of field work in schools are attributed to inadequate preparation on the parts of the teachers, large classes, time constraint and inadequate funding insecurity amongst others.

INTRODUCTION

According Biggs et al (1999) the concept of field work is seen to be the “active engagement with the external world” whether every activity described as fieldwork fits the criteria of “active engagement” is debatable. Ajibade and Raheem (1999) Defined “fieldwork” to include field teaching, field trips, field research or field camps or indeed “any arena or zone within a subject where, outside the constraints of the four walls classroom setting, supervised learning can take place via firsthand experience” According to Gold and Jenkins( 1991) field work may be categorise into five types of activity: Short field excursion: limited travel in limited time; Cook‟s Tour: limited activity in extended travel ;Residential course: extended travel and time ; Study tour: multi location activity, Project work: (i) learner-practitioner and (ii) participant observation. No matter whichever form it may take ,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 (Fletcher et al 2003) 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. Geography as a secondary school subject aims at helping learners understand their immediate environment as well as that of the universe (Akintade, 2012) this cannot happen in rigidly planned classroom activities where the teacher and the textbook are the only source of information. For Learners to be able to give some explanations on what they see on the landscape they need to have direct contact with this landscape and the only way of achieving this aim is by taking learners out of the walls of the classroom to the place where they will experience a direct contact with the landscape. By so doing, learners will learn by doing and by observing. This is what chemistry students do in their laboratories and the laboratory for Geography lessons is on the field (Rogers et.al 1994; Barnett, 2009; Young et al, 2010). However in some quarters geographic field work tended to be confused with picnics outings or class excursions this should be seen as a narrow concept of the term field work. For success and attainment of the goals of field work, Barnett (2009) opined that the following stages are critical : Abstract conceptualisation (pre field activities in class teaching and learning), Active experimentation (planning for Fieldwork) Concrete experience (conduct of the field work), and Reflective observation (post fieldwork evaluation)

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