GCSE geography fieldwork revision day (University of the West of England [UWE], Bristol)


What a great experience for Year 11 pupils from Al-Ashraf Secondary School for Girls in Gloucester!  Dr Chris Spencer, a Senior Lecturer in Geology and Physical Geography in the Department of Geography and Environmental Management at the University of the West of England (UWE), had worked hard to coordinate a fantastic day for them; perfect revision of their human and geography fieldwork completed last October and to be tested in Section A of Paper 3 in a few weeks’ time.

Chris led the first session of the day.  He provided an introduction to the coast, talked about the influences on this area of land and included a simulation to illustrate how the coastline of Europe has changed over the past 20 000 years.  Chris then ‘zoomed in’ on Weston-Super-Mere and the physical geography fieldwork that students had previously attempted.  He discussed the following aspects in some depth:

  • the research process;
  •  researching the coast;
  •  formulating research questions;
  •  experimental design;
  •  methodology;
  •  study site;
  •  results;
  •  discussion.

The girls responded well to the questions that Chris posed to them and participated whole-heartedly in the practical experiments in the Earth Sciences laboratory.  Chris was very complimentary about their engagement and enthusiasm towards the end of the session too.

Afterwards, we embarked upon a short walking tour of the campus, before having lunch in the refectory.  For many pupils, this was their first experience of university life.  It was a much bigger environment than their school, but several are keen to pursue A levels and undertake a degree at university, so this was very insightful for them.

In the afternoon, Harry gave them a taster of GIS to explore the human geography of Weston-Super-Mere.

The feedback from the girls was generally very positive, as can be seen below:

‘Many thanks for organising the trip today.’

‘Human geography (GIS) was useful as it gave an overview of the population and allowed comparison without errors or miscounting.  Physical geography was extremely good due to the fact that the samples were from even intervals and allowed a more accurate measurement of sediment.  Overall, definitely good – well prepared with resources that we would otherwise not have had.’

‘I think it helped to understand how to calculate the size of sand grains and the methods we should use to investigate beach sediment.’

‘I enjoyed the day very much.  I found the morning session with sediment sampling very helpful.  I also enjoyed the afternoon session as it gave me a taster of GIS.’

‘The day was helpful.  However, I felt that I learnt more in the morning than the afternoon session.  The morning session gave me ideas as to what to write in the Paper 3 exam.  The afternoon session gave me insight into how to compare two places.’

‘I thought the morning session was very useful and informative.  The day as a whole was very enjoyable.  Creating the maps was fun, although I did not find it as useful.’

‘The morning session was more productive, although the afternoon session was interesting.  I enjoyed the fieldwork experiment in the morning and it will definitely help me with Paper 3.’

‘It was good to see the university.  The cafe was nice!  The morning was much more helpful than the afternoon.   It was good to learn about a different method for measuring sediment.’

‘I found the activities fairly useful, especially the data analysis.  I found the human geography (GIS) informative, although it did seem less useful than the physical geography.  It was an interesting experience.  The tour of the university was good.’

‘I found the morning really interesting and thought it was useful.  The tour around UWE campus really gave me an insight into what university life may be like, should I decide to go down that route.  In the afternoon, I thought the GIS was okay, if a little bit confusing.’

‘Physical geography was helpful and informative.  Human geography didn’t really make an impact.  University was nice overall.’

‘I think the morning session was helpful.  However, I thought that the afternoon wasn’t as useful as it didn’t provide as much information as the morning.’  

‘I think the morning session was helpful.  The tour and lunch were good.  However, I didn’t find the GIS as helpful as it didn’t provide much information linked to our fieldwork.’

‘The physical geography sieving the sand was quite useful and the tour was interesting.  However, I didn’t find the human geography in the afternoon as useful as the physical geography in the morning.’

Many thanks to Chris and his colleagues at UWE.  Hope to see you again soon!

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