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Why do some students opt out of fieldwork? Using expectancy-value theory to explore the hidden voices of non-participants

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


Emma L. Peasland

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Dr Dom Henri
Senior Lecturer, Director of Studies


Lesley Morrell
Project Member

Emma Peasland
Project Member


Fieldwork is an important part of higher education programmes in geography, geology, environmental sciences and biosciences because it offers opportunities to enhance graduate employability alongside pedagogical and social benefits. However, not all students choose to participate in fieldwork and the reasons that some opt out are unknown. We used the expectancy-value theory of motivation to investigate why some students opt out of fieldwork. Data from six universities showed that students who opted out held lower fieldwork motivation than those who opted in. There was no effect of gender on fieldwork motivation but there was an effect of previous experience whereby students with previous fieldwork experience had higher motivation than those without. The reasons that students opted out related to pursuing alternative opportunities, barriers to their participation or a disinterest in fieldwork. Our findings suggest that alternative opportunities should offer similar pedagogical and professional and social development benefits to fieldwork and that further fieldwork opportunities are included in programmes to cater for students who have high fieldwork motivation but encounter barriers that prevent them from participating in field courses. Furthermore, programme design should eliminate structural barriers to fieldwork participation.


Peasland, E. L., Henri, D. C., Morrell, L. J., & Scott, G. W. (in press). Why do some students opt out of fieldwork? Using expectancy-value theory to explore the hidden voices of non-participants. International journal of science education, 1-24.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 25, 2021
Online Publication Date May 8, 2021
Deposit Date May 17, 2021
Publicly Available Date Nov 9, 2022
Journal International Journal of Science Education
Print ISSN 0950-0693
Electronic ISSN 1464-5289
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 1-24
Keywords Fieldwork; Motivation; Employability; Field trips; Expectancy-value theory
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