THE INFLUENCE OF FIELDWORK IN THE COGNITIVE AND AFFECTIVE LEARNING OF PRIMARY SCHOOL CHILDREN AGED 10-11 IN CYPRUS
Cyprus Pedagogical Institute (CYPRUS)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN12 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Conference name: 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2012
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:Fieldwork, as an active learning process, has enjoyed a long standing tradition in school reality as an excellent catalyst for learning. Ever since fieldwork made its emergence in education, long-lasting debates have grown in relation to its contribution in learning. An effort to support the academic integrity of fieldwork has been made by a body of research, which has evolved over time to validate its sustained place in education. Research findings, though, create conflicts and a number of ‘blind spots’ appear on its pedagogical value, since these findings have not reached a complete explanation on how and what students learn in real world settings. In Cyprus, many issues come to surface, which portray fieldwork difficult to implement. These issues are, firstly, a result of the misconceptions teachers have on the concept ‘fieldwork’. Many terms are used interchangeably in the National Curriculum of the country, each one giving a different dimension to fieldwork, a different scope and process of implementation. Teachers, instead of clarifying its theoretical background and value in the teaching and learning process, are led in lack of understanding of its content, scope and principles and feel insecure to use it in their teaching. Secondly, our National Curriculum is characterised by suppressive limited structures and what persists is the stubborn preservation of an anachronistic curriculum characterised by inflexibility and weakness to promote cross-curricular experiences, holistic examination of issues and knowledge that comes through daily experience. Thus, fieldwork is not established as an effective teaching and learning medium in teachers’ minds, since the frames of the curriculum of the country encourages them to follow the traditional teaching and norms. In addition, worries are raised in the school reality of Cyprus education on various obstacles, everyday problems and practical difficulties arising, which focus on the internal organisation of the school due to the interruption of the fixed school timetable, time limitations since it is considered an unnecessary cost in terms of time, the rising numbers of students in the class and lack of adequate funding, preventing teachers from carrying out fieldwork.Teachers in Cyprus need to be convinced on the effectiveness of fieldwork as an effective learning medium so as to overcome the issues and obstacles arising, and give fieldwork the position and ‘status’ it deserves in the school reality. In this sense, this study was carried out in the country with the hope that the outcomes would show that fieldwork could contribute in students’ learning and convince teachers on its educational value as an active learning process. More particularly, the study examined the influence of fieldwork in the cognitive and affective learning of primary school children aged 10-11 in Cyprus and its potential to play a pedagogical role in their learning. The methodology was of both a quantitative (pre-post tests) and a qualitative (interviews, essay writing) nature. The quasi-experimental design was used. The participants came from naturally formed groups of mixed-ability children from different urban schools. The research showed that fieldwork can play an important pedagogical role in children’s learning, since both cognitive and affective learning was significantly increased compared to the students who participated in a lesson in the traditional school class.
Keywords: Fieldwork, cognitive, affective learning.