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Field Trip Report Essay For College

Executive Summary
Field trips serve one vital function as far as education is concerned. Field trips link the classroom experience with the outside world in so doing they not only improve learning, but also give both the learner and educator valued practical experience (Jin and Lin, 2012). The tour they took with Greg Nannup of the Indigenous Tours WA was an interesting one judging by the varied lessons that we had to receive. This report is prepared to that effect. It details the events and the lessons learnt from the field trip conducted with the said tours agency. This particular trip visioned at improving their knowledge base grounded in the classroom concerning indigenous tourism. During this event, they encountered several wonderful spectacles like the magnificent shipwreck gallery in Fremantle. This gallery with its combined history and culture offers the tourists come visiting with a lively tourism site. The field trip owed its success to the tour guide, Greg Nannup who engaged the students in legends throughout the trip. A majority of his legends concerned the variety of tourist attractions that the students came across including the architectural buildings, the Freemantle Prison, and the Swan River. A brief detail of this is discussed in this report. In due course, the report provides information on the aboriginals’ connection with Fremantle, which actually is the basis of the indigenous tourism in the place.

Within the Perth region, the Fremantle Heritage Tour is among the oldest indigenous experience. It starts at the Fremantle Maritime Museum next to the waterfront and wander pasts other spectacular sites along the Swan River (Smith, 2011). Tourists in the region enjoy the view of the Nyoongar homelands, which is famous for wildlife spotting, bush-tucker searches, and weapon demonstrations. Other than Fremantle’s well-illustrated history, covering the last two hundred years lays the colourful and rich native history of over forty thousand years (trip advisor, n.d). Fremantle, which is located next to the Perth and the mouth of the Swan River, was home to the indigenous people of Australia for a very long time. The Nyoongar makes up the local aboriginal language group living in this area.

The aspects of the life and history of the Aboriginal Nyoongar population enlightens within the Fremantle Aboriginal Heritage Walking Tour (Rivera, 2012). Tourists exploring the indigenous culture plus the history in Fremantle discover that Swan River is an important part of the Aboriginal Dreamtime. Tourists get familiar withthe story of Wagyltogether with the aspects of the aboriginal history within the Fremantle area during the aboriginal Heritage Walking Tour. The field trip’s main goal was exploring the rich history that the Fremantle area holds, and in this regard, discovering the multi faceted nature of Fremantle’s heritage, both before and after the European settlement. This particular report explores a field trip that took place at the Fremantle Aboriginal Heritage Walking Tour.

As a requirement of the course, students are expected to take part in a field trip to an indigenous tourist destination. In this regard, the indigenous destination that is the subject of this report is the Fremantle, a place well known for its well-preserved architectural heritage. The Fremantle Aboriginal Heritage Walking Tour bequeathed the students with a pleasant and exceptional walking experience, which absorbed them into the culture of one of Australia’s most attractive cities. The students had the chance of exploring Perth’s natural charm and its hidden treasures. In addition, they engaged in its colourful history, starting from its colonial and indigenous beginnings to its current boomtown, filled with corruption and crime. The students gathered outside the shipwrecks gallery in Fremantle, an area bordering the Fishing Boat Harbour. They were led by Greg Nannup of the Indigenous tours WA in the trip that took one and a half hours to complete.

Aims of the Report
Field trip reports improve the educational value of a trip (Kolin, 2012). The trips deal with the spatial relations among data and the time relationships like the cultural history or geological processes. This report addresses two chief functions. First, it provides the practical experience that persuades students to realize the theoretical and conceptual discussions of their studies. Secondly, it improves the process of information gathering, as students are able to step outside their imagined perceptions to collect their experiences as the data for the knowledge founded on interpretation. In equal proportions, the report imitates the learning and experience achieved during the field trip. Consequently, through the preparation of the report, students are able to ponder their enhancement proficiency within this field of indigenous tourism.

Site Description
Fremantle serves as a habitat to a majority of iconic and well-recognized tourist attraction sites. This makes it a notorious destination both for interstate and international visitors. Fremantle was originally home to mass accumulation and whaling stations. It is an attractive little city, famous for its vast multicultural historical sites and restaurants. In equal measures, it includes convict built colonial epoch edifices in addition to one of the most tarnished prisons within the larger British Empire called ‘the World Heritage Listed Fremantle Prison’. While people are busy exploring the place, they are likely to hear surprising noises of Irish prisoners as well as the comical British Bush rangers escaping. This is the result of the World War II and the dishonourable eviction of the aboriginals to the Rottnest Island. In the past years when passenger ships served as the common means of transport for international travellers, Fremantle remained the western entrance to Australia. Several migrants arrived via the ship making this place their home. However, the jet travel changed Fremantle’s fame as a destination, following which the port city appeared the centre of global attention during Australia’s defence of American Cup in the year 1987. Currently, Fremantle still holds on to much of its usual charm. Most of Fremantle’s old edifices have been carefully restored and as well, the west end of the port is officially among the outstanding archetypes of a Victorian port streetscape in the universe. Fremantle enjoys a lively atmosphere given that there is always something taking place around the city, ranging from exhibitions, markets and concerts, festivals, to street performances.

The Field Trip/ Literature Review
The experience during the Fremantle Aboriginal Heritage Walking Tour was one to die-for. With the radiant, educational, and entertaining experience, the trip was a success. It gave the student visitors the story of the Wagyl together with the bit on the aboriginal history within the Fremantle area. An instance is the Fremantle Round House, which was constructed in 1831on Arthur Head. This building is not just Fremantle’s oldest edifice, but was also once a local prison. In the following years, it served as a holding cell to the aboriginal prisoners before they could proceed to the prison on the Rottnest Island. Yangan, an aboriginal resistance hero, is known to be among the first prisoners in Round House. After his rebellion against the white settlers, he was trailed and murdered. His head was cut off from the body, after which it was brought to England. After an exhibition in a Liverpool museum, it was buried in a mass grave. However, after some years, the head was exhumed and an aboriginal delegation brought it back to Perth.

The tale of the disastrous rates of indigenous imprisonment within Australia in the modern day and the twentieth century was explained to the students and they could not help but question on the relevance of the prison museum to the children of an aboriginal background. Greg explained that the prison presents itself mainly as a site of convict imprisonment and virtually fails to notice the many years that after the convict period. This act stresses the diverse and fundamentally contested importance of such sites (Frew and White, 2011). Greg continued on the Fremantle prison saying that as an iconic architectural entity, the prison stands as an example of Australia’s legal, institutional, and social history, and, therefore, a monumental signifier of national identity. Convicts built the old Fremantle prison between the years 1851 to 1855. The prison contains an underground tunnel. The students were able to learn new information concerning the convicts, maritime legends, and stories of free settlers. One surprising discovery for them was that the prison has numerous paranormal activities in the form of ghosts, who have been living in the prison from the past. Besides, the prison’s history includes sufferings and hardships, which are observed on the brick walls as a lingering imprint. For example, the red, yellow, and black aboriginal flag is a major symbol of resistance and nationalism (Wilson, 2008). It is to be seen in a variety of places on the cell walls, in common places, and even as carved into sandstone walls.

Just as the Western Australian Indigenous Tourism Operators Council (2011) state, while on an one-hour walk in Fremantle with an aboriginal guide, tourists are likely to learn concerning the importance of Fremantle to the Nyoongar people in addition to the dreaming tales concerning the area. The main experiences include the aboriginal culture plus history, traditional aboriginal hunting and gathering, aboriginal dreamtime, plus the tours of historic and sacred aboriginal sites. Starting from the Fremantle Town Hall, the tour took a non-traditional route through Freo, at the same time getting to know of the precise, irrelevant, and subjective information of this place en route for the energetic cappuccino strip as well as the Roundhouse. The one and a half hour walk through the historic streets of the town, beginning at the Maritime Museum, through to the Roundhouse was of great significance. It gave the students a powerful insight into the aboriginal people’s experiences, plus how the settler invasion had an effect on them. A variety of aspects covering the history and life of the aboriginal Nyoongar populace became apparent within the Fremantle Aboriginal Heritage Walking Tour.

As the Aboriginal guide took us through the path of native history and culture in Fremantle, the students realized that the Swan River is very much a part of the Aboriginal Dreamtime and the Aborigines treasure it as the most significant Dreaming trail within the larger part of Wagyl,also known as the winged Rainbow Serpent. In the context of Aboriginal beliefs, the extraordinary creature, the Wagyl lived within the reaches of the Swan River. In addition, it is linked to the development of the riverbed, which took place when it glided through the sand. Thus, the Nyoongar belief system holds the notion that the Swan River was formed in this way and the proof is the Wagyl’s existence. Around the Swan River foreshore, the ENRICH (Encouraging Reconciliation through Indigenous Culture and Heritage) trail discovers sites of importance to the Nyoongar Aborigines (Smith, 2011). They integrate Barrack Square, Kings Park, Heirison Island and Point Fraser, and the Supreme Court Gardens. Others sites such as the Pinjara, the Serpentine River, and the Mandurah as well collect the past and present rituals and traditions of primeval ancient groups living along the coastline. Moreover, the students were able to learn of the fact that major developments remain suitable within the Swan River. With this in mind, CY O’Connor, the engineer-in-chief of Western Australia from 1891 was responsible for a vital public works plan to build up the colony (South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council, n.d.). Hence, he was able to encourage the government that the greatest undertaking for Fremantle involved constructing a river mouth harbour. Certainly, the project was launched in 1892, with the harbour opening up its doors in 1897. Likewise, the students learnt more concerning the history of the place. According to the Nyoongar aboriginals, visitors frequented Fremantle during summer months during which fish and shellfish were in plenty. Greg recollected the history of fishing along the Swan River, demonstrating a way of using leaves and sticks to catch fish and crabs along the riverbanks. At the Fremantle harbour, the shallow waters formed a favourable environment for catching fish.

Furthermore, Greg explained on the link between Fremantle and the aboriginals. According to Buchholtz (2005), students should make a variety of choices regarding their host culture’s societal networks and these choices should result in a reflective effect on the extent to which they become socially integrated. With regard to this, Greg did elaborate on the vital sites and their histories, and shared dreaming stories from the region. He explained how the European settlement interrupted the local people, the link with the Rottnest Island, and the significance of the Swan River. The lessons learnt here included that the name Fremantle was borrowed from Captain Fremantle. On arrival to the city, the Nyoongar people gave him food, water, and fire. In addition, they sang throughout the night welcoming the white fella (wadjella) arrival. This was a novel refreshing approach to the old city from the eyes of the Nyoongar. In equal measures, the guide provided riveting insights into the traditional uses of plants, ranging from weaving, aid from stings, bandages, among others. There was a magnificent walk through the Perth’s striking Kings Park where they paid close attention to the plants that were initially used as food, medicine, and shelter by the Nyoongar tribe. The informative walk beginning with a cultural traditional reception ritual, the tanderum in which the visitors breathe in the strong aroma of native foliage that burns and smokes. The walk then ends with lemon myrtle tea and a review of some traditional tools and weapons.

Indigenous Tourism and Sustainable Development
A variety of researchers have discovered indigenous tourism as a method for sustainable development since it attracts visitors, stimulating local economies via a generation of tour revenues (Shikida, Yoda, Kino &Morishige, 2009; Choi and Sirakaya, 2005; Zeppel, 2009; Wallace & Russel, 2004; Whitford&Ruhanen, 2010; Altman & Finlayson, 2003). Uniformly, it helps preserve the natural, cultural, and social resources of the communities. Moreover, Blicker, Cottrel, and Black (2012), stress that indigenous tourism should aim at improving the lives of indigenous people, eliminating poverty, and contributing to environmental sustainability on a local and global extent.

Tourism is a likely source of employment and economic growth for the indigenous population in Australia (Buultjens& Fuller, 2007), and, thus, tourists are always invited to learn about the Aboriginal cultures within the country (Zeppel, 1999). Fremantle relishes indigenous tourism, which is the major source of employment and finance for the people living within the city (PerthNow, 2012). As Schmiechen (2006) explains, the place is of vital significance as it gives the visitors a strong focus on indigenous communities, people, and organizations with an explicit interest and participation in tourism. The exclusive aspects of the indigenous cultural traditions and history of Fremantle are embedded within the cultural and heritage tourism. In addition, the ceremonial aspects of indigenous culture are featured in Freemantle’s special events and native festivals. As Zeppel (2007) explicates, indigenous cultures are more often than not the basic moving factors for tourist’s visit to exotic destinations, and tribal events.

Fremantle, while taking upindigenous tourism for sustainable development, connects its recording facilities and institutions to the sites of native cultural tourism (Dunbar-Hall, 2004). From this viewpoint, it provides sustainable income to the aboriginals involved in media and music. In some cases, these places are as well the places of aboriginal broadcasting facilities and media relations. They observe numerous agendas. To start with, they are the chief site for dissemination of contemporary aboriginal music. Additionally, through indigenous control of broadcasting, they are a direct arena of empowerment, and thus allow aboriginal involvement within publicly available media and representations of aboriginality. In conclusion, they play a significant role in the development, preservation, and encouragement of indigenous cultures and languages.

Additionally, the travel guides within Fremantle are all local people, thus they have the exact information as concerning the area. According to Carr (2004), on-site interpretation aids to raise visitor’s awareness that a particular place has certain special importance to the local people, thus giving the visitors awareness of the cultural dimensions of that particular area. Greg Nannup, being highly knowledgeable and professional, proved to be highly engaging with the students and answered all their questions. In fact, he made the tour environment more authentic. The very fact that he is an aboriginal from the South Western side of Australia makes him authentic. As Mcintyre and Gosford (2011) attest, tourism in the twenty-first century is concerning people connecting with the globe, culture, and the bona fide experiences as opposed to the mere taking of photographs. Moreover, tourists are on the look out for nature-based experiences, thus they hunt for indigenous explanation of the surrounding milieu and landscape (Kandari& Chandra, 2004). Greg, as a travel guide puts this experience into the visitors. In addition, he is able to relate Fremantle’s indigenous tourism to sustainable development. Greg highlighted that his expressive voice in addition to the value of the stories he told had been passed down from generations, thus making them cultural in nature. Thus, he remains in a position to offer insight into the reasons why Fremantle and its environs are such a vital place for the indigenous population.

Greg clarified on the special link between Fremantle and its aboriginals. The land surrounding Fremantle has always been an important place for the aboriginals.

The field trip was important in learning about the historic port city of Fremantle. The students did not just wander the adventurous streets and laneways, but also learnt about Fremantle’s rich and diverse history and culture, which is embedded within its colourful inhabitants, well-preserved architecture, and great food. They got the rare chance of exploring the rationale behind it being a famous destination for both the local communities and international visitors. One of the reasons is Fremantle’s unique character captured by its heritage architecture, music, culture, and its restaurants.

Conclusions and Recommendations
Field trips are a vital part of the school curriculum as they proffer students with the necessary experience that cannot be imitated within the school setting. Nevertheless, they are a critical part of the general knowledge. Students affirmed that the trip to Fremantle was a tremendously optimistic experience for them. When asked which aspects of the field trip improved their interest and understanding of the course, they rated learning about the historical and cultural aspects of the Fremantle aboriginals as the most important.

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How to Begin

Field reports are most often assigned in disciplines of the applied social sciences [e.g., social work, anthropology, gerontology, criminal justice, education, law, the health care professions] where it is important to build a bridge of relevancy between the theoretical concepts learned in the classroom and the practice of actually doing the work you are being taught to do. Field reports are also common in certain science disciplines [e.g., geology] but these reports are organized differently and serve a different purpose than what is described below.

Professors will assign a field report with the intention of improving your understanding of key theoretical concepts through a method of careful and structured observation of, and reflection about, people, places, or things existing in their natural settings. Field reports facilitate the development of data collection techniques and observation skills and they help you to understand how theory applies to real world situations. Field reports are also an opportunity to obtain evidence through methods of observing professional practice that contribute to or challenge existing theories.

We are all observers of people, their interactions, places, and events; however, your responsibility when writing a field report is to create a research study based on data generated by the act of designing a specific study, deliberate observation, a synthesis of key findings, and an interpretation of their meaning. When writing a field report you need to:

  • Systematically observe and accurately record the varying aspects of a situation. Always approach your field study with a detailed plan about what you will observe, where you should conduct your observations, and the method by which you will collect and record your data.
  • Continuously analyze your observations. Always look for the meaning underlying the actions you observe. Ask yourself: What's going on here? What does this observed activity mean? What else does this relate to? Note that this is an on-going process of reflection and analysis taking place for the duration of your field research.
  • Keep the report’s aims in mind while you are observing. Recording what you observe should not be done randomly or haphazardly; you must be focused and pay attention to details. Enter the observation site [i.e., "field"] with a clear plan about what you are intending to observe and record while, at the same time, being prepared to adapt to changing circumstances as they may arise.
  • Consciously observe, record, and analyze what you hear and see in the context of a theoretical framework. This is what separates data gatherings from simple reporting. The theoretical framework guiding your field research should determine what, when, and how you observe and act as the foundation from which you interpret your findings.

Techniques to Record Your Observations

Although there is no limit to the type of data gathering technique you can use, these are the most frequently used methods:

Note Taking
This is the most commonly used and easiest method of recording your observations. Tips for taking notes include: organizing some shorthand symbols beforehand so that recording basic or repeated actions does not impede your ability to observe, using many small paragraphs, which reflect changes in activities, who is talking, etc., and, leaving space on the page so you can write down additional thoughts and ideas about what’s being observed, any theoretical insights, and notes to yourself that are set aside for further investigation. See drop-down tab for additional information about note-taking.

With the advent of smart phones, high quality photographs can be taken of the objects, events, and people observed during a field study. Photographs can help capture an important moment in time as well as document details about the space where your observation takes place. Taking a photograph can save you time in documenting the details of a space that would otherwise require extensive note taking. However, be aware that flash photography could undermine your ability to observe unobtrusively so assess the lighting in your observation space; if it's too dark, you may need to rely on taking notes. Also, you should reject the idea that photographs are some sort of "window into the world" because this assumption creates the risk of over-interpreting what they show. As with any product of data gathering, you are the sole instrument of interpretation and meaning-making, not the object itself.

Video and Audio Recordings
Video or audio recording your observations has the positive effect of giving you an unfiltered record of the observation event. It also facilitates repeated analysis of your observations. This can be particularly helpful as you gather additional information or insights during your research. However, these techniques have the negative effect of increasing how intrusive you are as an observer and will often not be practical or even allowed under certain circumstances [e.g., interaction between a doctor and a patient] and in certain organizational settings [e.g., a courtroom].

This does not refer to an artistic endeavor but, rather, refers to the possible need, for example, to draw a map of the observation setting or illustrating objects in relation to people's behavior. This can also take the form of rough tables or graphs documenting the frequency and type of activities observed. These can be subsequently placed in a more readable format when you write your field report. To save time, draft a table [i.e., columns and rows] on a separate piece of paper before an observation if you know you will be entering data in that way.

NOTE:  You may consider using a laptop or other electronic device to record your notes as you observe, but keep in mind the possibility that the clicking of keys while you type or noises from your device can be obtrusive, whereas writing your notes on paper is relatively quiet and unobtrusive. Always assess your presence in the setting where you're gathering the data so as to minimize your impact on the subject or phenomenon being studied.

ANOTHER NOTE:  Techniques of observation and data gathering are not innate skills; they are skills that must be learned and practiced in order to achieve proficiency. Before your first observation, practice the technique you plan to use in a setting similar to your study site [e.g., take notes about how people choose to enter checkout lines at a grocery store if your research involves examining the choice patterns of unrelated people forced to queue in busy social settings]. When the act of data gathering counts, you'll be glad you practiced beforehand.

Examples of Things to Document While Observing

  • Physical setting. The characteristics of an occupied space and the human use of the place where the observation(s) are being conducted.
  • Objects and material culture. This refers to the presence, placement, and arrangement of objects that impact the behavior or actions of those being observed. If applicable, describe the cultural artifacts representing the beliefs--values, ideas, attitudes, and assumptions--used by the individuals you are observing.
  • Use of language. Don't just observe but listen to what is being said, how is it being said, and, the tone of conversation among participants.
  • Behavior cycles. This refers to documenting when and who performs what behavior or task and how often they occur. Record at which stage is this behavior occurring within the setting.
  • The order in which events unfold. Note sequential patterns of behavior or the moment when actions or events take place and their significance.
  • Physical characteristics of subjects. If relevant, note age, gender, clothing, etc. of individuals being observed.
  • Expressive body movements. This would include things like body posture or facial expressions. Note that it may be relevant to also assess whether expressive body movements support or contradict the language used in conversation [e.g., detecting sarcasm].

Brief notes about all of these examples contextualize your observations; however, your observation notes will be guided primarily by your theoretical framework, keeping in mind that your observations will feed into and potentially modify or alter these frameworks.

Sampling Techniques

Sampling refers to the process used to select a portion of the population for study. Qualitative research, of which observation is one method, is generally based on non-probability and purposive sampling rather than probability or random approaches characteristic of quantitatively-driven studies. Sampling in observational research is flexible and often continues until no new themes emerge from the data, a point referred to as data saturation.

All sampling decisions are made for the explicit purpose of obtaining the richest possible source of information to answer the research questions. Decisions about sampling assumes you know what you want to observe, what behaviors are important to record, and what research problem you are addressing before you begin the study. These questions determine what sampling technique you should use, so be sure you have adequately answered them before selecting a sampling method.

Ways to sample when conducting an observation include:

Ad Libitum Sampling -- this approach is not that different from what people do at the zoo--observing whatever seems interesting at the moment. There is no organized system of recording the observations; you just note whatever seems relevant at the time. The advantage of this method is that you are often able to observe relatively rare or unusual behaviors that might be missed by more deliberate sampling methods. This method is also useful for obtaining preliminary observations that can be used to develop your final field study. Problems using this method include the possibility of inherent bias toward conspicuous behaviors or individuals and that you may miss brief interactions in social settings.

Behavior Sampling -- this involves watching the entire group of subjects and recording each occurrence of a specific behavior of interest and with reference to which individuals were involved. The method is useful in recording rare behaviors missed by other sampling methods and is often used in conjunction with focal or scan methods. However, sampling can be biased towards particular conspicuous behaviors.

Continuous Recording -- provides a faithful record of behavior including frequencies, durations, and latencies [the time that elapses between a stimulus and the response to it]. This is a very demanding method because you are trying to record everything within the setting and, thus, measuring reliability may be sacrificed. In addition, durations and latencies are only reliable if subjects remain present throughout the collection of data. However, this method facilitates analyzing sequences of behaviors and ensures obtaining a wealth of data about the observation site and the people within it. The use of audio or video recording is most useful with this type of sampling.

Focal Sampling -- this involves observing one individual for a specified amount of time and recording all instances of that individual's behavior. Usually you have a set of predetermined categories or types of behaviors that you are interested in observing [e.g., when a teacher walks around the classroom] and you keep track of the duration of those behaviors. This approach doesn't tend to bias one behavior over another and provides significant detail about a individual's behavior. However, with this method, you likely have to conduct a lot of focal samples before you have a good idea about how group members interact. It can also be difficult within certain settings to keep one individual in sight for the entire period of the observation.

Instantaneous Sampling -- this is where observation sessions are divided into short intervals divided by sample points. At each sample point the observer records if predetermined behaviors of interest are taking place. This method is not effective for recording discrete events of short duration and, frequently, observers will want to record novel behaviors that occur slightly before or after the point of sampling, creating a sampling error. Though not exact, this method does give you an idea of durations and is relatively easy to do. It is also good for recording behavior patterns occurring at a specific instant, such as, movement or body positions.

One-Zero Sampling -- this is very similar to instantaneous sampling, only the observer records if the behaviors of interest have occurred at any time during an interval instead of at the instant of the sampling point. The method is useful for capturing data on behavior patterns that start and stop repeatedly and rapidly, but that last only for a brief period of time. The disadvantage of this approach is that you get a dimensionless score for an entire recording session, so you only get one one data point for each recording session.

Scan Sampling -- this method involves taking a census of the entire observed group at predetermined time periods and recording what each individual is doing at that moment. This is useful for obtaining group behavioral data and allows for data that are evenly representative across individuals and periods of time. On the other hand, this method may be biased towards more conspicuous behaviors and you may miss a lot of what is going on between observations, especially rare or unusual behaviors. It is also difficult to record more than a few individuals in a group setting without missing what each individual is doing at each predetermined moment in time [e.g., children sitting at a table during lunch at school].

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