The Benefits of Observational Writing in the ‘Field’: Becoming a Reflexive Learner in the Discipline

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Observational writing, in the ‘field’, develops an awareness of student identity of themselves as authors in the discipline. Thus, to be a reflexive learner can involve the stripping away of old identities, the reconfiguration of existing identities and the creation of new ones. This can bring about an understanding of authorship as entailing a considerable degree of responsibility for what is written, where writing is considered to be a process through which we come to comprehend with more clarity both ourselves and the world. As a result, writing becomes an integrated practice of observing, (un)knowing, questioning, reflecting, understanding and theorizing thorough which students learn become a practitioner/writer in the ‘field’.

This paper draws upon writing activities undertaken at fieldtrips to UK museums (British Museum and Museum of London, London; Ashmolean Museum and Pit Rivers Museum, Oxford) by a cohort of lifelong learners studying prehistoric archaeology at University of London, UK. It promotes the benefits of observational writing in context as a route into the development of critical thinking and the articulation of it. The themes that emerge out of this reflexive approach to learning and writing that will addressed in this paper will include encounter, language and identity.


Keywords: Writing, Identity, Reflexivity, Archaeology, Museums
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Benefits of Observational Writing in the ‘Field’, The


Fay Stevens

Teaching Fellow, Centre for the Advancement of Learning and Teaching, University College London
London, UK

Fay Stevens specialises in phenomenological research methods, writing in the discipline, visual media and text, the roles of material culture in prehistoric societies, writer identity and the interplay between theory and practice and how it is articulated. Her work at UCL, CALT includes the teaching of courses in Writing in Academic Contexts, Writing Science and The Visual Essay as Methodology to Writing. Based around her interests are the recent completions of a Secondment placement at CALT for a project ‘Exploring writing transitions: A disciplinary perspective within the field of archaeology’ and a co-run Higher Education Academy Teaching Development Grant for a project ‘Reflective Pedagogies: Promoting Reflexive Practice in Archaeological Fieldtrips’. Fay is currently completing a PhD at the Institute of Archaeology (UCL) and lectures in Higher Education at University of Reading and University of Notre Dame and in Continuing Education at Universities of Oxford, Bristol and Birkbeck (University of London).

Ref: L09P1409