This inclusive teaching guide is aligned to Baseline Standard 1 and the Professional Standards Framework A1. It provides general advice on how you can design and deliver your fieldtrips inclusively to suit the needs of a diverse cohort of students.
Planning and design
Destination, locations visited and activities
- Consider how the learning outcomes are met by the location and nature of the fieldwork. Are there refinements that would reduce the need to make additional modifications to the trip to accommodate all students?
- Write an inclusive risk assessment1 that as well as considering physical hazards, cover the local laws, customs and attitudes at your destination, their potential impact on those with protected characteristics and what mitigations can be put in place.
- Accessibility of locations: what reasonable adjustments can be made to in improve accessibility, for example the use of a 4x4 vehicle for students with limited mobility. Also be aware of religious / cultural sensibilities. For example, many Muslim students will not enter a place where alcohol is served.
- Whilst not all of your students may be able to visit every locality, they should all be included in the field experience. This can include alternative exercises for specific inaccessible locations.2
- The timing of a trip, whether term or holiday time, is usually dictated by teaching requirements and there is no ideal. However, ensure students are aware of the trip dates as early as possible to allow them to make arrangements regarding work, childcare etc.
- Choose accommodation where all areas used for socialising, eating and teaching are accessible and inclusive to all on the trip.
- Where possible have single bedrooms available. Privacy and quiet is important for those with anxiety, autistic spectrum conditions, those who experience chronic pain and fatigue, and for trans-gender or transitioning students.
- If single bedrooms are not available, try to have a quiet room where your students can get away from loud environments. This can also be used for religious observances.
- Ensure the accommodation can always be accessed as some of your students may need to remain behind for a day or return early from the field.
- Ensure catering facilities can accommodate special dietary requirements.
- Where the costs of travel, food, equipment and/or suitable clothing are not included in the trip, make sure students are aware of this and consider how those who may struggle with these can be supported.
- Are the travel arrangements suitable for those with limited mobility or who struggle in loud and crowded environments?
Equipment and clothing:
- Does safety equipment come in a variety of shapes and sizes?
- Check whether there may be any safety issues around clothing your students need or are required to wear for health or religious reasons. Also consider whether this will limit their participation in the activity.
- Discuss any issues with your students ahead of the trip and work out the best solution. This will also help your student to understand the rationale behind any restrictions implied.
- Have clearly defined rest breaks, mealtimes, finish times and regular toilet stops3, and let your students know when these are. Students who need to control their diets, energy levels and / or have control over their environment, will then be able to take any necessary action.
Assessment of the trip
- Where possible, keep assessment on the trip itself formative. If summative assessment is needed consider whether it can be done after the trip, for example as a report or open book exam.
- Summative assessment can lead to your students focusing on collecting data for the assessment rather than developing a broader understanding of the area / subject. It creates undue stress for disabled students who are already working harder than their peers to manage their conditions.
Preparing for the trip
- Let your students know the benefits of disclosure and the types of accommodations that can be put in place.
- Meet individually with your students who have additional requirements on a field trip. Listen to their concerns and ask them what they need to be comfortable working on the trip. Understanding these means your plans can incorporate pro-active accommodations.
- Create personal plans with students, including logistical arrangements, individual lines of communications (for example pre-arranged check-ins during the day), logistics for returning to the accommodation or for leaving the field trip. They will feel more able to engage with the fieldwork knowing their needs are understood and that they have a backup plan if needed.
- Have an alternative field experience available, but only use this if the student is certain their needs cannot be met on a field trip.
- Provide clear and detailed information on daily schedules and activities well in advance to allow your students to plan personal care and to feel in control of their situation when away from familiar environments and support mechanisms.4
- Ensure your pre-trip briefing and handouts are written and provided in an accessible format. To learn more, please refer to our Digital Accessibility website.
Teaching in the field
How does the location impact on teaching methods?
- Try to choose a quiet location for delivering teaching. If this is not possible, hold the introduction and debrief in quieter locations.
- Supplement verbal information with written information to limit the amount of note-taking that is required. Listening and note-taking simultaneously are particularly difficult for some disabled students.
- Allow time for all students to move between localities before starting teaching.
The point of fieldwork is to learn from a unique environment and experience, but if they are too tired, hungry, thirsty or in need of the toilet to learn there is no point in being there.
Guide written by Jacqueline Houghton
© University of Leeds 2022 | Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)
- Prior-Jones, M., Pinnion, J., Millet, M.-A., Bagshaw, E., Fagereng, A., and Ballinger, R.: 2020 An inclusive risk assessment tool for travel and fieldwork, [Online] EGU General Assembly, EGU2020-7678, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-7678. [Accessed: 5th August, 2022]
- Houghton, J.J., Morgan, D.J., Gordon, C.E., Stokes, A., Atchison, C.L., Collins, T.D., Craven, B. & Willis, K., 2020, Access Anglesey 2018: Lessons from an inclusive field course. Advances in Geosciences, 53, 183-194. doi: 10.5194/adgeo-53-183-2020.
- Greene, S., Ashley, K., Dunne, E.M., Edgar, K., Giles, S., Hanson, E., 2020. Toilet stops in the field: An educational primer and recommended best practices for field-based teaching [Online]. doi:10.31219/osf.io/gnhj2 [Accessed: 5th August, 2022].
- Hall, T. and Healey, M, 2004 Geography Discipline Network The Experience of Learning at University by Disabled Students in Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences and Related Disciplines. Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education, Geography Discipline Network (GDN). Available online at http://www.academia.edu/3420461/Listening_to_students_the_experiences_of_disabled_students_of_learning_at_university [Accessed 30th November 2016]