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Managing time in the field

Initial Publication Date: March 25, 2004

Before you leave the indoor classroom or lab:

  • Explain the goals of the field lab. Depending on the length of the lab, the travel time and the weather, you may want to wait to describe the methods in the field. (In foul weather, do as much as possible indoors).
  • Distribute and describe any handouts. If you wait until you're at the field site, they will blow away. In foul weather, consider having a set of clean and dry handouts for students to pick up when they return from the field or at the next class.
  • Divide students into groups, as appropriate.
  • List the equipment that individual students or student groups need to collect before leaving. (A lab assistant - if you have one - can check to make sure that all the equipment leaves and returns).
  • Remind students that there will be no bathroom stops during the field lab (and then set a time limit for them to come back from the bathroom).
  • Collect your own equipment and whatever you will need to teach in the field (such as sketchpad and markers).

When you arrive at the field site:

  • Announce a time for everyone to be back at the vehicles.
  • Give students an idea of how far along they should be at about halfway through the time (e.g. "By 3 p.m. you should have examined the first two exposures.")
  • Give students a way to start (e.g. "Begin by making a sketch of the exposure and identifying individual layers.")

After fieldwork is finished, before returning to campus:

  • Check to make sure everyone is back at the vehicles.
  • Ask for questions.
  • Hold a summary discussion of the fieldwork, if appropriate. (In foul weather, have the discussion inside).
  • Repeat instructions for any follow-up that students should do after the end of the lab (these should also be in writing).

After returning to campus:

  • Collect departmental equipment from students and student groups.
  • Have students clean (and dry!) equipment, if necessary.
  • Remind students of follow-up work and deadlines for it.