Birmingham Bog outdoor laboratory: potentials and possibilities for embedding field-based teaching within the undergraduate classroom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Colleges, School and Institutes


Providing cost-effective, hands-on field-based experiences to large cohorts of undergraduate students provides a core challenge for effective teaching and learning. This grand challenge is tackled through the construction of an exemplar outdoor learning environment within the Environmental Change Outdoor Laboratory (ECOLAB): Birmingham Bog (BB). Adjacent to the Geography building, the facility aims to produce a seamless, interconnected learning environment (in both space and time) that brings inaccessible fieldwork activities direct to the classroom at the time and frequency appropriate to the learning objectives. With the integration of this facility within a 3rd year undergraduate module, we explore through group interviews the ways in which BB adapted and influenced students’ engagement with lecture material, and the extent to which the approach can complement or replace current field based teaching activities. The group interviews identified how BB was considered an example of “effective learning” within the context of the wider degree programme. However, if confirmed, the value placed on residential field courses cannot be met by such campus experiences. Despite this, BB represents an increasingly fertile space for deeper stimulation and innovative ways of learning; diversifying pedagogical techniques and enabling students to re-engage with lecture content.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Geography in Higher Education
Early online date28 Mar 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Mar 2018


  • experiential learning, Field-based learning, innovative pedagogy, learning spaces, wetlands