Developing emotional intelligence and resilience to support innovative pedagogies. Presented by David Simm (Bath Spa University, UK) and Alan Marvell (University of Gloucestershire, UK).
International fieldwork offers significant physical and socio-psychological challenges as well as opportunities. Students are confronted with unfamiliar environments, mild culture shock, challenging physical and climatic conditions, the stresses of group work and intensity of field presentations, or fatigue during field trips. Such challenges may affect students' resilience to cope with the demands as well as opportunities encountered doing the field trip.
As tutors, we must not underestimate nor ignore how fieldwork can influence the affective domain of students or indeed staff (Marvell & Simm, 2018). However, pedagogic trends such as inquiry-led primary research (cf. McGuinness and Simm, 2005) or engaging with the emotional geographies of a place (cf. Simm and Marvell, 2015) result in new sets of challenges for students and staff. As tutors, we need to be mindful that developing new pedagogic and power relations through innovative pedagogies do not deliberately or inadvertently burden students with additional stresses that may compromise students’ resilience to cope with challenges in-the-field.
In this paper, the authors reflect on their combined 50 years of international fieldwork experiences to identify how and why students' emotional resilience can be compromised during fieldwork, examine some of the potential causes and, using the lessons gained from hindsight, suggest strategies for proactively as well as reactively responding to issues. We examine how an understanding of emotional intelligence can help to structure, support and resolve issues that arise during international fieldwork.
We conclude that not only must field tutors carefully monitor and facilitate emotional resilience amongst our students, but tutors also need to be aware of how their own emotions and experiences affect students' experiences and behaviour on field trips. Being aware of the risks and providing a supportive framework are essential, but we also need to challenge students, which in turn helps to develop greater emotional resilience and to present them with potentially transformative experiences.
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Resources to support the Society's principles for undergraduate fieldwork courses
Dr Lynda Yorke (Bangor University) and Dr Simon Tate (Newcastle University)
Online tools for experiential learning
A number of resources are available to help university staff understand and address mental health and wellbeing issues in higher education.
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