Biology fieldwork in schools and colleges in the UK: an analysis of empirical research from 1963 to 2009

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Between 1963 and 2009, there have been 13 published studies offering empirical evidence on biology fieldwork in schools and colleges in the UK. This paper considers the evidence from these studies relating to work with 16-19 year old students undertaking academic study beyond the compulsory years of schooling; advanced ('A') level. It analyses data concerning the amount and type of fieldwork experience students were offered and the factors that influence opportunity for such study A multi-method approach is used, involving historical research, content and critical analysis as well as secondary analysis, in order to explore: (1) whether there has been a reduction in the fieldwork opportunities offered to 16-19 year olds, as has been claimed by Government and national bodies such as Parliament, the British Ecological Society (BES) and the Field Studies Council (FSC); and (2) the factors affecting the provision of biology fieldwork in the UK. The findings suggest that fieldwork provision in biology is declining and that eight factors have contributed to this decline. The paper concludes by identifying the implications for researchers, policy formers and those responsible for pre-service teacher training.


Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of biological education
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2010


  • Biology fieldwork, 16-19 biology education