Fieldwork is a valuable part of the learning experience, in part because it helps to develop key competencies that employers are looking for, such as:
- flexibility and the capacity to cope with change;
- analytical ability;
- decision making;
- communication and interpersonal skills;
- team working and potential leadership ability;
- organisation and prioritisation;
- mental and physical stamina (Philips, Gilchrist, Hewitt, Le Scouiller, Booy & Cook. 2007).
Fieldwork and related activities should be designed to be inclusive and accessible. In other words all students should be able to achieve the learning outcomes and gain the transferable skills associated with the tasks involved.
Self-evaluation activities can help students to recognise both their potential abilities and also any possible barriers to full engagement in fieldwork tasks. Such self-evaluation activities are consistent with an anticipatory approach to curriculum design as they help with identifying inclusivity issues so that strategies for removing barriers to participation and success can be put in place. (You will find links to some audit resources on this page).
Healey, Roberts, Jenkins and Leach (2002) provide general advice on dismantling accessibility barriers associated with fieldwork. These might be physical barriers, institutional barriers (e.g. course time constraints) or personal attitudes (e.g. attitudes of other students and the public). Modifications made with one group in mind may benefit others, meaning that the suggested strategies have broad relevance for curriculum design.
Philips, T., Gilchrist, R., Hewitt, I., Le Scouiller, S., Booy, D. & Cook, G. (2007). Inclusive, Accessible Archaeology, Guides for teaching and learning in Archaeology, 5. Higher Education Academy, York. 14.
Healey, M., Roberts, C., Jenkins, A., & Leach, J. (2002). Disabled Students and Fieldwork: Towards Inclusivity?, Planet, 5:1. 10.