Resource Database: Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Title 'Pyramid' Reading in a Tutorial
Originator Gordon Clark
Department Department of Geography, Lancaster University, LA1 4YB
Tel. +44 (0)1524 593740
Fax. +44 (0)1524 847099

In a tutorial the minimum is to get the students to learn something new and to talk and interact with each other. One of the more traditional ways of achieving this is 'pyramid' reading. Two students are asked to read for the following week one key reference each, these references having been chosen by the tutor because they take different perspectives on a given topic. During the tutorial the two students describe the arguments put forward by their author. They should also give an appraisal of the work as well as a summary.

Two other students are designated at the start of the tutorial as rapporteurs; they comment on how well they feel the first two students have summarised and evaluated the papers. They ask for clarification of points and raise issues that occur to them.

Finally the remainder of the group comment on the consequences of these articles for their understanding of the topic, for the rest of the material covered in related lectures and on how these authors' perspectives would affect any public policies on the topic.

Overall the tutorial requires:

- participation by most of the students (some more than others but the burden can be rotated each meeting);
- the development of critical faculties;
- the linking of specific references to the range of ideas and controversies surrounding many geographical topics.
The critical part of the preparation by the tutor is finding the two key articles with contrasting approaches which the first two students can read.


Critical reading

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Page created 7 April 1997
Database pages maintained by Phil Gravestock