Our geography fieldwork relates to Optional Theme G – Urban Environments and investigates the internal structure of Vancouver’s central business district (CBD). Urban environments are dynamic places and are becoming increasingly important for geographers and policymakers to understand. The focus of our field study is also important for businesses and service providers who need to identify markets and financially viable locations to open their doors. Lastly, the downtown core is the heartbeat of the city for its residents: understanding its changing characteristics will help people anticipate what their neighbourhood might look like in a few years, what opportunities they might have, and what issues they might need to face.
What is a Geo IA?
Relationship to the syllabus
The fieldwork study for both HL and SL students must be related to material in a geographic inquiry topic or sub-topic and its development in the syllabus, whether it is from the optional themes, the core theme, or the HL extension. It can combine two or more topics or themes.
The fieldwork must be on a local scale and involve the collection of primary information. The chosen topic may be environmental, physical or human, or may integrate approaches.
This information must come from the student’s own observations and measurements collected in the field. This “primary information” must form the basis of each investigation. Fieldwork must provide sufficient information to enable adequate interpretation and analysis.
Fieldwork investigations may involve the collection of both qualitative and quantitative primary information. The type of information collected should be determined by the aim and fieldwork question.
Quantitative information is collected through measurement and may be processed using statistical and other techniques.
Qualitative information is collected though observation or subjective judgment and does not involve measurement. Qualitative information may be processed and coded or quantified where appropriate, or it may be presented through images or as text.
This research involves gathering information from sources that have already been compiled in written, statistical or mapped forms. Secondary information may supplement primary information but must only play a small part in the investigation.
All secondary information must be referenced, using a standard author–date system, such as the Harvard system. This includes information from the internet, where references should include titles, URL addresses and dates when sites were visited. All sources of secondary information must be referenced. Footnotes may be used to reference material and will not be included in the word count provided that they are brief (up to 15 words as noted below).
Students should produce one report of their investigation. The report must not exceed 2,500 words.
The following are not included in the word count:
§ Title page
§ Contents page
§ Titles and subtitles
§ Footnotes—up to a maximum of 15 words each
§ Map legends and/or keys
§ Labels—of 10 words or less
§ Tables—of statistical or numerical data, or categories, classes or group names
§ Appendices—containing only raw data and/or calculations
All the main text is included in the word count, including the research question, analysis, conclusion and evaluation, as well as all annotations over 10 words and any footnotes over 15 words.
A very limited use of appendices is acceptable and, if appendices are used, these should contain only examples of materials that have been used or are representative of the material used, such as a data sheet or a translation of a questionnaire. It should not include all materials used, for example, every survey or questionnaire completed. Further, it should not include secondary information.
Where work is over the limit, teachers and moderators are advised to stop reading and students are likely to not gain as many marks under criteria such as E and F.
The emphasis of the written report must be analytical and include focus on the method(s) and technologies (if any) employed for information collection, its treatment and analysis. A purely descriptive report and/or a long theoretical introduction must be avoided.
Students are advised to use the following guidelines to format their reports, which will ensure that the reports fulfill the requirements of the criteria.
The fieldwork written report must meet the following requirements of organization and presentation:
ü The work is concise and within the 2,500-word limit.
ü Overall presentation is well structured, with pages numbered.
ü All illustrative material is fully integrated into the body of the report and is not relegated to an appendix.
ü Figures such as maps, diagrams and tables are numbered and referenced in the text.
ü References used for background information follow standard conventions. (Guidance on referencing is given in the earlier section on secondary information.)
Section A – Fieldwork Question and Geographic Context (3 marks / 300 words)
Fieldwork Question: To what extent does Vancouver’s CBD fit the core frame model?
1. We should observe the following in the PLVI (inner core)
§ High order business and public service
§ Either high order or high threshold retail
§ Internal zoning (clustering) of services
§ Evidence of high bid-rent
§ High pedestrian traffic (ease of transport and access)
§ Limited parking; high cost of parking
2. We should observe the following as we travel away from the inner core through the outer core
§ Similar activities as the inner core, but require more space or have lower profit levels (bid-rent)
§ Decreasing pedestrian traffic
§ Evidence of Transition Zone (Assimilation zones and Discard zones)
3. Finally, we should observe the following as we reach the edge of the CBD (the Frame)
§ Wholesale retail and services requiring large amounts of land
§ Low order retail
§ Further decreased pedestrian traffic
§ Some limited manufacturing
§ Residential assimilation
§ Increased / sufficient parking
Section B – Method(s) of Investigation (3 marks / 300 words)
1. We will plot a couple different land-use transects through Vancouver’s downtown core. This means we will be walking (quite a bit!) and recording land-use at regular intervals on both sides of the street.
2. We will periodically stop along our land-use transects to count pedestrians.
3. You will be encouraged to take photographs and field observations as we walk through the city. Photos should focus on clearly identifying aspects of the CBD or Core-Frame model and should be annotated if used in your field report.
4. We will be investigating certain retail stores where we can potentially observe changing retail characteristics and survey staff.
When collecting primary data, you must understand what type of sampling method you are implementing. Each sampling method has its benefits and limitations. We will discuss the types of sampling methods while we are out on our field study and you must correctly identify and justify the method used in your investigation.
You must also consider which methods you will use to treat your land-use and pedestrian count data. This should be briefly described in this section.
Section C – Quality and Treatment of Information Collected (6 marks / 500 words)
Section D – Written Analysis (8 marks / 850 words)
Section E – Conclusion (2 marks / 200 words)
Section F – Evaluation (3 marks / 300 words)