Letting students experience our soil geography

This article will show an example of students experiencing soil geography.

Two hands holding soil

Course: SGL23312 Landscape Geography
Period: Period 5

Short Introduction and background

Introduction and story behind the emergence of this learning activity. What was the need, what issue/problem was the teacher facing and wanted to resolve? 

The activity takes place within a very large (12ECTS) course in period 5. It is a whole day course which is very intensive for the students. Normally, the students (>100) would go on excursions and field trips to see the learnt knowledge in practice. Due to corona, the course consists of a large part of (online) lectures and knowledge clips.

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To activate the students to experience the landscape and its soils outside, the lecturers of the ‘Soil Geography and Landscape’ part of the course came up with a few solutions to alternate between learning activities. One way to do this was to let students work out assignments in groups and also let them present the results to the whole group. The other way to do this was to partially replace the fieldwork of this course. This is described here in this showcase.

Only Brightspace was used by the lecturers to make this possible. They shared an assignment via Brightspace, students handed the assignment in via Brightspace and they received feedback via the Brightspace assignment as well. To complete the assignments, students could make images, write text or create a short clip. For that, they would need a computer and a camera or cell phone. Because they were going to investigate soil and make measurements, having a scoop or an auger and having a measuring tape was required.  

Relevant tools / apps (software) or hardware used

  • Brightspace Assignments tool
  • personal photo camera/cell phone - for students' recording

Learning outcome(s)

What has been learned after this lesson/activity has been executed ?

There were no particular learning outcomes for this assignment. The assignment was not obligatory, but optional. The goal of the assignment was to let students experience the soil geography in their environment. It was about applying the knowledge from lectures to the actual field of their study.

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The assignment was not graded. It can be seen as a way of formative assessment since the students did receive feedback from the lecturers if they handed it in. A large majority of the group has handed in work for this assignment. The reward for these students was to have tried things themselves, to experience the fieldwork. Also, they received feedback on their work and their work was being presented during a discussion session.

Lesson idea / Learning activity

Specific description and demonstration of the lesson idea/learning activity.

The learning activity was aiming at letting students apply their learnt knowledge in the field, literally. The students received an assignment via Brightspace to go out and explore the soil geography in the proximity of a nearby river. They could complete this assignment alone, in pairs, or even as a group of students (following the corona rules at all times). They would go to the river to examine three elements that were discussed in class. i.e. different types of landforms, different soil properties such as texture and organic matter content, and different landscape characteristics. Also, there were links between this assignment in P5 and another similar assignment that the same students did in P3.

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They could write up their findings and they could accompany this with photos and/or video.

The assignment was specified for the three different elements with pointers for the students with regard to the preparation. The assignment consisted of three goals, and the students could choose to do two or three of these goals. They could submit the assignment and receive feedback via Brightspace.

Lessons learned / Tips

Mentions tips lecturer has for colleagues based on their experience.

  • It works to encourage students to actively go outside and do something. To apply the learned knowledge in practice. Even though the proper tools (e.g. an auger) that would be available during fieldwork, were not available now.
  • Come up with different learning activities and don’t let your students look at the screen all day.
  • Not every assignment or activity needs to be graded. The experience itself can be a learning activity.
  • Replacing the whole excursion was one step too far. In case this is not possible, think smaller and come up with things that are possible.


Teacher(s): Ingrid Lubbers
TLC contact:
Author (interviewer): Karly van Gorp


Credits for the article's photo: Nora Schreuder and Jelmer Sonnemans

Credits for the video attached: Bart Versteegen


  • An example outcome of the course activity: (video below)


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