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four disadvantages of field work.docx - FIELDWORK AS A...

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FIELDWORK AS A TEACHING METHOD –A CASE STUDY USING GPSAndreas Ulovec11Faculty of Mathematics, University of Vienna, Nordbergstrasse 15, 1090 Wien, Austria,[email protected]AbstractIn this paper we want to demonstrate a case study showing how fieldwork can be used as a teaching method.We will provide a definition of this teaching method, explain its advantages and disadvantages, describe thebackground and the setting of the case study, and report about the evaluation results. Fieldwork is rarely usedin several school systems, both for legal and practical reasons. Yet it can increase students’ motivation,particularly in mathematics, as students can experience first-hand “what can mathematics be used for?” We willpresent a teaching unit using GPS as a tool to construct or measure geometric figures in the field, i.e. outsidethe classroom. This gives students an opportunity to learn about geometric figures not only in an abstractsetting, but as shapes used in the real world. The questionnaires and interviews that we conducted show thatthis teaching unit improved students’ motivation to find out more about real-life uses of mathematics, as wellas the possibility of increasing students’ attitudes towards learning mathematics by providing possibleapplications.KeywordsFieldwork. Real-life tasks. Electronic media as tools for learningDEFINITION AND INTRODUCTIONBy fieldwork we mean work of students outside the classroom. It may involve work inthe school grounds or further afield. It can vary in duration – part of a lesson, a half day, orlonger. It involves live collection of primary data by means of observation, experiment orsurvey (Ulovec et al., 2007). In this way, students can experience familiar and unfamiliarphenomena beyond the normal confines of the classroom (Dillon et al., 2005).However, fieldwork is not frequently used in many classrooms. This might be because ofpractical reasons, because of legal hassles, or simply because of a lack of teaching materialswith proper suggestions. As for the practical reasons, some tips and hints can be found inSimperler (2012). As for the legal hassles, it might be true that using fieldwork requires someform-filling, parents to be contacted etc. But this is also true for other out-of-school activities,e.g. ski courses, swimming weeks, excursions etc., and so should not prevent one from usingthis method. As for the lack of teaching materials, this is the main reason for writing thispaper. We developed a number of out-of-classroom activities in an EU-funded project calledDynaMAT. One of the materials is presented here, together with an evaluation in the form ofquestionnaires and interviews, to serve as a case study about the usefulness of this teachingmethod.

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Term
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Tags
Geometry, Global Positioning System, teaching method

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