I think that you might be missing an important point here about fieldwork. The expert scientists that use modelling, remote sensing etc. likely have spent many hours in the field. This may provide them with the concrete experience / visual images that are needed before they can work with the more abstract content of modelling, remote sensing. This is not the case with a typical novice who does not have this huge resource of experience / images with the concrete materials. This understanding is backed by basic learning theory (for example Piaget and Bruner) and is likely connected to work done in the psychology of visualization.
So the value of such hands on field work is invaluable for giving the novice that connection to geology that he / she can scaffold into more abstract learning opportunities.
Jeff Dodick
Jeff Dodick
Science Teaching Center
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Givat Ram, Jerusalem
Israel 91904
Tel: 972-2-658-6492
From: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">Frank Granshaw
To: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]
Sent: Monday, October 25, 2010 10:36 PM
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