If you have not read it, Rob Butlerís small book on teaching fieldwork is illuminating:


There are many quotes from practising geoscientists in the book that address your second question. They essentially provide reasons why there is no substitute for fieldwork and why its apparent decrease in importance in the curriculum is more likely a short-sighted hindrance to future research in geosciences.

Best regards



Dr. A.P. Boyle
School of Environmental Sciences, Herdman Building, 4 Brownlow Street
University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3GP, U.K.
Tel: (0151) 794 5154;   FAX:(0151) 794 5196;    School web page:

"The great tragedy of Science - the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact." (Huxley, 1825 - 1895)

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From: Frank Granshaw [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: 25 October 2010 21:36
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Geoscience reliance on fieldwork


Hello everyone...


I am currently looking at two arguments regarding the inclusion of fieldwork in geoscience literacy courses.  


  1. Since field studies are one of the major ways by which geoscience knowledge is constructed it is important to expose novices to how fieldwork works so they have some sense of where this knowledge comes from.  Plus it gives them first-hand experience with at least some of the phenomena that they are looking at. 
  2. With the refinement of remote sensing technology and an increasing emphasis on modeling and lab analysis, we are seeing more and more geoscientists that spend little or no time in the field.  Consequently, it is an inefficient use of limited educational resources to engage novices in an activity that is becoming increasingly less important to the research community.


Are any of you are familiar with any statistics related to the time various types of geoscientists spend in the field vs. other activities such as modeling, lab analysis, administration?  Any reflections or information on the other issues associated with this question would also be appreciated.



Frank G.


Frank D. Granshaw

Earth Science Instructor

Portland Community College

Sylvania Campus

Portland, OR