Stage 2: Investigate practically in the field
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Conduct the investigation and collect data while you are on the field trip. Have a clear focus for the field trip, which relates to your pre-visit preparation and post-visit follow-up.
Provide a clear but flexible fieldwork programme, which includes time for orientation, investigation and relaxation.
Divide learners into manageable groups and give them clear instructions and the necessary tools to investigate practically and record data. Cooperative learning techniques are helpful in fieldwork situations, with different groups undertaking different aspects of the overall investigation.
Provide the necessary equipment, information and record sheets so that learners can collect data accurately and
systematically, generating meaningful data to categorise / interpret in the classroom.
Share initial observations on site, and enable all groups to observe all the areas / aspects of the investigation
covered by the small specialist groups.
Prepare a meaningful “Plan B” in case of rain, so that your visit is not wasted.
Stage 3: Analyse and report in the classroom
Back in the classroom after the field trip, evaluate your data and communicate your findings.
Give each specialist group time to present their data to the class so that each learner can complete his/her own individual record sheets. Analyse the data collected, e.g. by finding averages, drawing graphs, categorising items, identifying trends,
producing neat illustrations, interpreting observations, etc.
Do additional research to help you answer your investigation question thoroughly. Produce and present a report on your findings, using available technology, e.g. project file, poster, computer
Discuss the implications of your findings for the environment / society, decide on your response and follow a
course of action, e.g. publicise your findings in the local newspaper; conduct an awareness programme at school;
commit to making more sustainable choices in your own life, etc.
Dealing with large groups of learners Fieldwork can be difficult with large classes. It is not effective to try to communicate with large groups outdoors
there are too many distractions and it is often difficult to hear the speaker. To overcome this problem,
Andreas Groenewald, Education Officer at Helderberg Nature Reserve, uses co-operative learning methods. B e f o r e g o i n g i n t o t h e r e s e r v e t o d o a p r a c t i c a l i n v e s t i g a t i o n , A n d r e a s d i v i d e s l a r g e g r o u p s i n t o s m a l l e r g r o u p s .
He provides each group with a pack of information (e.g. brochures, booklets) and about three questions to
guide their research into a unique aspect of the overall topic. For example, groups could research the physical ( a b i o t i c ) c o n d i t i o n s o f a f y n b o s e c o s y s t e m , a n d t h e p l a n t s a n d a n i m a l s t h e y a r e l i k e l y t o o b s e r v e . H e g e t s e a c h group to develop a poster to share what they have learned with the other groups.
In the reserve, the learners continue to work in small groups on part of an overall investigation. For example, in one lesson, groups describe the physical conditions of their small study site (quadrat) and record the plants
and animals found there. By getting groups to investigate areas with different physical conditions (e.g. hot,
dry and sunny or cool, moist and shady), it is possible to compare findings and draw conclusions.