This paper represents the opinions of its authors and not necessarily those of the Council of Ontario Universities.
Effective teaching and learning can occur both inside and outside of the university classroom. While a traditional university course takes place in the lecture halls and labs of the academic institution, some course instructors extend the learning environment beyond the university classroom and into the ‘real world.’ Many professions, such as teaching and health care, require these out-of-classroom learning experiences and use professionals within the field as on-site instructors. The co-operative education model requires students to develop practice knowledge and skills within a work environment. For other academic areas of study, such as geoscience, these out-of-classroom experiences are not always required, but are seen as extremely beneficial for student learning. Out-of-classroom learning activities are commonly identified in the literature as ‘internships,’ ‘fieldwork placements,’ ‘clinical education,’ ‘field-based learning,’ ‘experiential education,’ or ‘service learning.’ For the purposes of this article, these out-of-classroom, non-laboratory activities with specific learning objectives, goals, and evaluation criteria will be referred to as field-based learning.
The information within this article is intended to be relevant and useful for both mandatory and optional field-based learning, regardless of duration or physical setting. The information is applicable to both individual and collaborative models of instruction, involving one or more students learning together with one or more instructors. This article considers Ontario-based learning only; it does not include a discussion of studying abroad. This article is also not intended for application to overnight stays that occur in some geography courses, although the tips and guidance provided herein would be helpful for these situations.