## Applied fieldwork

__- There are many books and websites which can be used to find out information about how to complete geography fieldwork - below are just a few. The image below is from Field Studies Centre website - click here or on the image to open this website. Click on the 'Geographical Enquiry' tab to het started.__

**Information**

__- Even though coursework is no longer part of GCSE and AS/A2 Geography, you still need to carry out fieldwork that will be assessed, either by an examination or a piece of submitted work.__

**Introduction**One day you are going to be asked questions like

*Describe the aims of your field investigation*and

*How did you make sure that you carried out your field investigation safely?*Examiners will quickly work out if you are making it all up, and mark you down accordingly. A far less risky approach is to make sure that you have carried out a range of fieldwork investigations, so that you are prepared for whatever they throw at you in the exam.

How do you decide on the title for your geographical investigation? It's easier to think of reasons why you can't do certain titles.

__- Once you have decided on a general theme (like Coasts), you need to think of a title. One place to start is a general research question. Here are some examples__

**Aims and Hypotheses**

- How does the River Onny change downstream?
- How successful are the coastal defences at Beesands?
- What is the urban fringe like around Penrith?
- Is Henley-in-Arden a typical suburbanised village?

Use the

*Background information*sections on the Stage 1 pages for each topic on this website. For example, the Background information section of the downstream changes topic of 'water' covers two geographical models (Bradshaw and Schumm, both of which can be used to ask geographical questions), geographical theory about key river variables, and the concept of stream ordering.

Use your research question to construct hypotheses. A hypothesis is a statement that you can test. A well written hypothesis is clear, directional and measurable. So for the first research question

*How does the River Onny change downstream?*some good hypotheses that you could test would be

- Hydraulic radius increases with distance from source in the River Onny
- Load particle size decreases with distance from source in the River Onny
- Cailleux Index of roundness increases with distance from source in the River Onny

A

*null hypothesis*is a specialised form of hypothesis used in statistical testing. It is covered in more detail in Stage 4.

**Risk Assessment**- All Geography specifications include a section on risk assessments. You should expect to answer exam questions about risk assessments. For each fieldwork investigation you should be able to identify a small number of

*risks*, and the associated

*control measures*to help you reduce those risks.

There is no need to go over the top. You are unlikely to be abducted by Martians while carrying out a beach transect, and any examiner will take a dim view of frivolous answers for risks and control measures. But what could harm you during fieldwork? Some general ideas...

- Being struck by an object (e.g. collision with a car)
- Exposure to the cold (hypothermia)
- Drowning
- Falling

For example, a risk in an investigation into rural hierarchies is that you will need to walk down narrow country lanes where there is a chance that you could be involved in a road traffic accident. A possible control measure would be to walk on the right-hand side of the road, to face oncoming traffic and allow you to move out of the way onto the grass verge. Risks in a rivers investigation include drowning. A possible control measure would be to avoid entering water which is deeper that knee level, as this would prevent you from being knocked off your feet by the flow of the water and possibly hitting your head on rocks on the river bed.

__- The most accurate way of investigating the pebbles on the beach in the photo (right) would be to measure every pebble.__

**Types of Sampling**Although very accurate, it is unrealistic to do this. To avoid this problem, it is expected that you will limit the amount of information that you collect, as long as you are careful that your

**is**

*sample***of the whole**

*representative***. These three words have a specific meaning in statistics.**

*population*- The
is the limited number of measurements that you make*sample* - The
is the total number of measurements that you could potentially take (ie all the pebbles on the beach)*population* - A totally
sample will tell you everything you might need to know about the*representative**population*

There are three ways that data can be sampled - these are random sampling, systematic sampling and stratified sampling.

**Random Sampling**is used where the study area is the same throughout. In a flat grassy field, you could assume that the environmental conditions do not change within the meadow, it doesn’t matter whereabouts within the area you take your samples from. In urban investigations, you might use random sampling if, for example, you are assessing a small number of sites in one particular housing estate for environmental quality (see urban inequalities).

Random sampling can be used to choose spots or areas as sites to sample. It is vitally important that you do not choose sample sites yourself, as this will introduce bias. Random sampling is achieved by generating two random numbers (from a random number table or a scientific calculator) and using them as co-ordinates. For a small area, such as a field, you could lay two 20m tape measures on the ground and use the co-ordinates to place a quadrat. For an urban area, you could use the co-ordinates to generate Ordnance Survey grid references.

Random sampling should be free from bias. But it may be difficult to obtain a truly representative sample. The number of samples that you take (the

*sampling size*) is important. This is considered in more detail below.

**Systematic Sampling**is used when the study area includes an environmental gradient. With an environmental gradient you would expect a variable to change in a regular manner as you move away from the start of your survey e.g. the depth of the river as you move further away from the source. You could sample along a line (e.g. at 10 equally spaced points on 3km of a river's course to investigate downstream changes in a river or every 20m along a line running inland in a sand dune system) or in every grid square within a defined area (e.g. within every 100m x 100m grid square within a small area for flood hazard mapping). Sample points should be evenly spaced or distributed.

Systematic sampling is quick and easy to do. But it is easy to miss variation. For example, if you are investigating downstream changes in a river by choosing equally spaced samples, you may not easily be able to pick out the effect of tributaries joining the river. If you are investigating a sand dune system, widely spaced intervals may mean that you miss some variations in vegetation, such as small dune slacks. It is important to consider a suitable distance between your intervals so as not to miss a rapid change (eg sand dune succession). The number of samples that you take (the

*sampling size*) is important and the area that you complete your sample in.. This is considered in more detail below.

**Stratified Sampling**is used when the study area includes significantly different parts (also known as subsets). You should make sure that the number of samples taken is representative of the importance of each subset within the total population. In a rivers investigation into the effect of stream ordering on discharge, a stratified sample would be to choose sites where the two river segments of the same order join. In a sand dune investigation, a stratified sample would be to choose to sample where on dunes of different ages rather than at equally spaced intervals. In a drainage basin that is 30% clay and 70% sandstone, you may choose to collect data from 3 sites on clay and 7 sites on sandstone.

Stratified sampling should overcome the problem with missing variation that might arise with systematic sampling, but it can be difficult to get background data to allow you to apply stratified sampling appropriately.

__(or replicates) should you take? There are two ways to look at this question:__

**How many readings**

- what is the
*minimum*number of replicates that I need to collect so that I can carry out statistical tests? - what is the
*maximum*number of replicates above which the results do not change?

If you are looking for a correlation between two variables (e.g. hydraulic radius vs distance downstream OR rurality score vs distance from the city), you will need at least 12-15 pairs of measurement to carry out a statistical test like the Spearman's Rank Correlation Coefficient. The absolute minimum number is 10 pairs of measurements, however this may limit your ability to draw conclusions.

A more statistically valid approach to increase the reliability of your results is to calculate the running mean. By taking a number of repeat readings in a single location you can determine the number of samples required that will give you an average that takes in to account the natural variation that may occur at each sample point.

Begin by finding the mean of your first two readings, then the mean of the first three readings, the mean of the first four readings and so on. The mean values will fluctuate each time, but will gradually settle within a closer limit, until a point is reached where adding to the sample only has a very small effect on the mean. You can assume at this point that the number of repeats is adequate.

In this example above, the running mean has been calculated for pebble size measurements. After 25 measurements, adding to the sample is only having a small effect on the mean.

Of course, the exact number of replicates that you choose will also be affected by the amount of time that you have available to carry out the survey.

- A - How long you have to collect your data
- B - How long it takes to collect one set of data (e.g. all the river measurements at one point on the river)

__- It sounds obvious, but it isn't. Results can easily be missed if you don't have a systematic way of recording them. Construct tables (sometimes called__

**Recording Data Efficiently***booking sheets*) to fill in at each sample site. An evaluation section which includes the comment '

*This investigation was not successful because I lost half of my data*' will not score highly. The example below shows what you could produce.

**Cross - Section**

**The Size and shape of pebbles -**To record the shape of the pebbles use the

**Power's chart**(see below). Note 1 – 3 have definite points whereas 4 – 6 do not. From this chart you can also decide how spherical it is – hence 2 drawing per box – don’t go there!

The

**size**is found by measuring the maximum length – know as the longitudinal axis. Ideally you should sample 10 rocks/stones/pebbles at each site

Questions

1. Define the terms qualitative and quantitative data - give examples - include diagrams.

2. Define the terms primary and secondary data collection.

3. Define the terms random data, stratified data and systematic data.

4. Describe how each type of data can be collected.

5. Define the term transect.

6. Describe how your collected your data on the field trip.

1. Define the terms qualitative and quantitative data - give examples - include diagrams.

2. Define the terms primary and secondary data collection.

3. Define the terms random data, stratified data and systematic data.

4. Describe how each type of data can be collected.

5. Define the term transect.

6. Describe how your collected your data on the field trip.