Revisiting fieldwork: Difference between intention and practice

Kwok Chan LAI

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Fieldwork is defined as educational activities conducted outside the formal classroom environment with the purpose of allowing learners to have direct and first-hand experience of phenomena and processes in their natural settings. It is an important teaching approach widely used by teacher educators and teachers in geography, environmental studies, social studies and biology. Despite prevalent beliefs about the educational value of fieldwork, which include a wide range of knowledge, skills, attitudinal and aesthetic objectives, most of the published works on fieldwork only consist some general discussions on its assumed value or descriptions of particular field sites and practical techniques. There is a general lack of research on fieldwork as a pedagogic device and there is also little evaluation of its outcomes. Most of the few available research are teaching effectiveness and teacher attitude studies without adequately addressing the question “what is happening in fieldwork?”. They seldom attempt to explain why fieldwork in actual practice is often very different from what the curriculum developers and teachers have intended. They seldom investigate teachers’ and students’ intentions towards fieldwork, the teaching and learning strategies employed, and students’ prior and actual experiences which may have contributed to the above difference. The paper argues that it is crucial for educators to conduct research on teachers’ and students’ conceptions of fieldwork, investigate fieldwork as a form of experiential learning, and understand the field as an unique learning milieu, and apply the findings to bridge the gap between intention and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1995


Lai, K. C. (1995, November). Revisiting fieldwork: Difference between intention and practice. Paper presented at the Hong Kong Educational Research Association 12th Annual Conference: Rethinking Education: Reflective Practice, Professionalism and Postmodernization, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, China.


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