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Research and Fieldwork Methods

  • Module code: GG4090
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: 4
  • Credits: 30
  • Pre-requisites: None
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

This is a module for all Level 4 Geography and Environmental Science students. The module introduces a range of generic and discipline specific research and fieldwork methods. Students are introduced to their course learning aims and identify their learning targets from Induction to graduation and their alignment to their learning pathway. Students are tutored in a range of learning techniques (eg. critical thinking and communication skills) and are introduced to assessment for learning and the role of feedback, reflection and feedforward as an integrated part of their learning journey. Students are introduced to a range of research methods that form the basis of successful investigations in their subject areas, including research design, information acquisition, qualitative and quantitative analysis and critical interpretation.

The module introduces fieldwork as a key investigative element of geographical and environmental study and the module incorporates the core Level 4 fieldwork, developing generic fieldwork skills (eg. safety and ethical considerations) and discipline specific site investigations. The Level 4 Personal Tutorial System (PTS) is integrated within this module and timetabled tutorial sessions provide an opportunity for regular discipline-focused small-group discussion and debate and reinforces the key themes and practices of the taught programme. Employability skills are reflected throughout the module and the authentic application of the methods developed are highlighted in the taught curriculum. Employability skills are explored in the PTS and students are challenged to consider the development of these skills horizontally between their Level 4 modules and vertically as they identify their learning pathway from level 4 to graduation.

Aims

  • To assist students in making the transition to Higher Education and to generate a sense of belonging to Kingston University and course identity, to identify their learning pathway from Level 4 to graduation and to indentify and value employability skills.
  • In conjunction with the PTS, provide a foundation of study skills to enable students to learn how to learn, develop good academic habits and confidence and to prepare students to make the most of feedback with reference to their environmental or geographical discipline.
  • To provide a foundation of essential principles and techniques that underpin environmental and geographical investigations.
  • To provide an instructive and relevant geographical or environmental field study experience.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

  • Understand and take ownership of the personal academic journey from Induction to graduation through the development and application of undergraduate-level academic skills to graduation and to identify and value employability skills
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the fundamental principles and techniques that are pertinent to geographical and environmental disciplines.
  • Undertake elementary data analysis to investigate and understand selected geographical and environmental phenomenon.
  • Prepare for fieldwork and perform appropriate fieldwork techniques in Geography or Environmental Science.

Curriculum content

  • Learning to learn: graduate attributes and setting personal targets; understanding 'syllabus', learning objectives and the learning and assessment pathway; understanding and using feedback; accessing content and developing critical thought; communicating ideas (eg. academic writing skills). Taught components of the core curriculum will be supported with personal tutorials.
  • Research methods: defining research in environmental and geographical context, empirical and deductive research investigation; qualitative, quantitative and mixed-methods.
  • Information acquisition and analysis: Primary data sources: social survey design. Principles of survey design and practice. Qualitative and quantitative approaches to information collection. Types of survey investigation and field skills. Role of pilot surveys. Questionnaire design and hypothesis testing. Field-based practice. Face-to-face interviews versus alternative field strategies. Focus groups, participant observation and in-depth interviews. Secondary data sources for the exploration and interpretation; cartographic, graphical and statistical representation of environmental and geographical information.
  • Introduction to data analysis. Types of data, types of analysis, graphical methods, frequency distributions, univariate descriptive statistics, principles of inferential statistics, t-tests, bivariate analysis.
  • Fieldwork; safety, fieldwork methods and techniques; pre-fieldwork study area investigation; field-based investigations (staff-directed and project-group driven); post-fieldwork reflection.

Teaching and learning strategy

The module will foster a sense of course identity and students will understand how the elements of their learning (at each level and between levels) integrate and constructively align to their learning pathway. Students will learn the research and fieldwork methods an employer is likely to expect from a geography or environmental graduate and how to identify and place value on a range of employability skills that will be acquired throughout their studies. This will be introduced through lecture and seminar discussions that will introduce key concepts in each of the curriculum content areas. Formative assessment tasks (including the use of Quizzes, digi-polls (eg. clickers, Poll EV) will provide regular feedback and build to support the summative assessments. This will include the production of a Reflective Learning Journal that will track their learning gains through Level 4 and provide a basis for reflective learning at Levels 5 and 6 (and the placement, where relevant).

Employability skills are inherent in all aspects of the learning pathway of this module that is specifically developing a range of study skills as a hotizontal baseline for other Level 4 modules and for vertical integration to Level 5 and 6 modules. Practical sessions allow students to develop and apply their research skills knowledge and skills. This will include an introduction to geographical and environmental data acquisition and analysis and the acquired lessons will feedforward to fieldwork preparation sessions to cover background information specific to fieldwork learning. Fieldwork will be assessed through the production of a fieldwork notebook that will be assessed formatively pre-fieldwork and summatively within the field. The PTS will complement and support all aspects of the module and provide signposts to Faculty-wide support services as required to aid student learning (eg. SASC and Maths Aid).

Canvas VLE will be used to support all aspects of learning and teaching, providing a platform for articulating the module syllabus, assessment and feedback, archiving module-related resources (eg. specific reading materials) and a digital discussion platform.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive UNISTATS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Lecture 15
Scheduled learning and teaching Seminar 5
Scheduled learning and teaching Practical 35
Scheduled learning and teaching Personal Tutorial 5
Scheduled learning and teaching Fieldwork (5 days) 40
Guided independent study 200
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

The assessments strategy consists of a series of formative and summative assessments for learning that place an emphasis on practical skills and integrate elements of the PTS.

Summative assessment consists of:

(A) Reflective learning journal - a blog-based journal that is integrated to a series of PTS-based learning tasks (30%)

(B) Data analysis practical exercise (30%)

(C) Fieldwork notebook (40%) which is based on structured learning tasks in the field and will build upon reflections of feedback provided from a formative pre-fieldwork report (F)

Formative assessment consists of:

(D) PTS-based learning tasks that will feed into the Reflective learning journal (A)

(E) Quizzes and digi-polls (e.g. clicker and PollEV) activities

(F) Fieldwork preparation seminar-based discussion that will assist in the preparation for the fieldwork and will feed into the fieldwork report (C)

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
(1) Understand and take ownership of the personal academic journey from Induction to Outduction through the development and application of undergraduate-level academic skills to graduation and to identify and value employability skills. (A) Reflective learning journal supported by (D) PTS-based learning tasks
(2) Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the fundamental principles and techniques that are per (E) Quizzes and MCQ tests associated with research methods and data analysis that will feed into the data analysis fieldwork report (B).
(3) Undertake elementary data analysis to investigate and understand selected geographical and environmental phenomenon. (E) Quizzes and MCQ tests associated with research methods and data analysis that will feed into the data analysis fieldwork report (B).
(4) Prepare for fieldwork and perform appropriate fieldwork techniques in Geography or Environmental Science. (F) Fieldwork preparation seminar-based discussion that will assist in the preparation for the fieldwork and will feed into the fieldwork report (C)

Elements of Assessment

Description of Assessment Definitive UNISTATS Categories Percentage
Reflective Learning Journal Data analysis practical exercise Coursework Practical Exam 30% 30%
Fieldwork notebook Coursework 40%
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS NOT a requirement that any major element of assessment is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module.

Bibliography core texts

Kneale PE (2011) Study Skills for Geography, Earth and Environmental Students - A Practical Guide (3rd edition), London: Arnold.

Bibliography recommended reading

Clifford N, Cope M, Gillespie TW and French S (2016) Key Methods in Geography. Sage, London.

Dawson C (2013) Basic Study Skills: a Practical Guide to Learning for all Students. Constable and Robinson London.

Knight P and Parsons AJ (2003) How to do Your Essays, Exams and Coursework in Geography and Related Disciplines. Nelson-Thornes, Cheltenham.

Northey M, Draper D and Knight DB (2015) Making Sense in Geography and Environmental Sciences: a Student's Guide to Research and Writing (6th edition). Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Rogerson PA (2001) Statistical Methods for Geography. Sage, London

Walford NS (2002) Geographical Data: Characteristics and Sources.  John Wiley & Sons, Chichester.

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