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The influence of fieldwork design on student perceptions of skills development during field courses

Peasland, Emma L.; Henri, Dominic C.; Morrell, Lesley J.; Scott, Graham W.


Emma L. Peasland

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Dr Dom Henri
Senior Lecturer (School Natural Sciences) / Senior Research Fellow (Teaching Excellence Academy}

Graham W. Scott


Employability is a key issue for students and Higher Education Institutions and a key component of employability is possessing the skills a role requires. In the environmental sciences, fieldwork provides an opportunity for students to develop employability-enhancing technical and transferable skills. However, students can have difficulty identifying the transferable skills they develop both during fieldwork and throughout their degree programmes. We investigated whether different pedagogical approaches to fieldwork (staff-led and student-directed) influenced student’s perception of skill-development. Additionally, we explored whether students recognised that skills developed during fieldwork might enhance their employability. Overall, students recognised technical skills more frequently than transferable skills. However, when fieldwork investigations were staff-led, students recognised more technical skills, but when students designed their fieldwork investigations themselves they recognised more transferable skills. Upon reflection, students were readily able to link skill-development to employability. We suggest that to maximise the skills development benefits of fieldwork, field courses should include a variety of fieldwork teaching designs to allow students to develop the widest array of skills possible. Additionally, students should be encouraged to reflect on their experiences throughout a field course as reflection is thought to aid their ability to recognise how their skills have developed.


Peasland, E. L., Henri, D. C., Morrell, L. J., & Scott, G. W. (2019). The influence of fieldwork design on student perceptions of skills development during field courses. International journal of science education, 41(17), 2369-2388.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 9, 2019
Online Publication Date Oct 23, 2019
Publication Date Nov 22, 2019
Deposit Date Oct 9, 2019
Publicly Available Date Apr 24, 2021
Journal International Journal of Science Education
Print ISSN 0950-0693
Electronic ISSN 1464-5289
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 41
Issue 17
Pages 2369-2388
Keywords Fieldwork; Biology education; Ecology education; Employability; Skills; Field trips; Higher education
Public URL
Additional Information Peer Review Statement: The publishing and review policy for this title is described in its Aims & Scope.; Aim & Scope:; Received: 2018-10-22; Accepted: 2019-10-09; Published: 2019-10-23


Accepted manuscript (367 Kb)

Copyright Statement
©2019 University of Hull

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