Resource Database: Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Title Projects on Geographical Issues
Originators Mick Healey1, Ian Livingstone2, Peter Vujakovic3, Ian Foster4
Department 1GEMRU, Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Higher Education, Francis Close Hall, Swindon Road, Cheltenham, GL50 4AZ
2School of Environmental Science, University College Northampton, Boughton Green Road, Northampton, NN2 7AL
3Department of Geography, Canterbury Christ Church College, North Holmes Road, Canterbury, CT1 1QU
4Department of Geography, Coventry University, School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, Priory Street, Coventry, CV1 5FB
Tel. +44 (0)1242 543364
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The projects were devised as a new way of delivering practical skills at the foundation level (Healey, 1992). The intention was to replace a techniques-driven programme, which was designed around individual student effort and assessment, with an issues focus and collaborative groupwork. The coverage of practical techniques was reduced, omitting surveying and field techniques, and concentrating on the choice and application of statistical and computing techniques, and on the wider range of skills involved in presentation and communication.

The four projects were (in chronological order): 'The Social and Economic Geography of Coventry', 'A Third World Atlas', 'Environmental Hazards', and 'Acid Rain in Coventry'. Each was allocated 5 weeks of 2-hour classes. The first project introduced most of the skills. Using the Small Area Statistics of the Census of Population, each group worked with one ward and produced indicators, maps and graphs. They also showed cross-city variations. For the second project the group (now re-formed) chose an area and a theme for an atlas and produced two relevant maps (for example, an economic atlas of southern Africa). The third project used library research to prepare a report on a chosen hazard. Group members took on roles of particular specialists in their research, and put together a joint oral presentation. The last project used a computerised database and required students to perform statistical analysis and to write a 2000 word report.

Learning objectives:

By the end of this course students should:
  1. be more aware of sources of geographical information
  2. have increased their ability to chose and use appropriate statistical techniques to analyse data
  3. have developed their ability to present information in a range of different ways
  4. gained useful experience of working co-operatively in groups

Delivery of practicals:

Guidance in the techniques and skills was provided for the students by means of a resource pack, which students would access as needed, in place of formal delivery. The role of the tutors was perceived to be as facilitators rather than instructors. Tutors monitored the activities of the groups by observing and questioning. Tutors were provided with a staff handbook which included guidance on the teaching, learning and assessment of the projects, and suggested how they could facilitate the student learning experience.


Posters, written reports, the maps and oral presentation were elements of assessed work for the different projects. Peer and tutor assessment was included.


Collaborative work
Geographical issues
Group work

This is one of the case studies which appears in the GDN Guide "Practicals and Laboratory Work in Geography"

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Page created 28 November 1998
Page updated 2 October 1999
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