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Strategic Issues in Developing Key Skills in Geography in Higher Education: a seminar

Summary of Event

"... a most useful and informative day."

"Very interesting, very worthwhile."

Workshop activity This seminar, the first of a series on Developing Key Skills in Geography, was organised by the Geography Discipline Network (GDN). It took place at the headquarters of the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers (RGS-IBG) on 2 September 1999.

Thirty two geographers from twenty three institutions were present to discuss issues such as 'How are key skills developed in geography degree courses?', 'What can geography students do to develop their own skills at university?', 'What can we do in teaching and learning key skills to encourage their transferability?'

Following an introduction to the seminar and the DfEE-funded project on Key skills in geography by Professor Mick Healey (GDN Director), Dr Jacky Birnie (Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Higher Education) presented the findings from her recent report 'Key Skills of Students on Entry to Geography in Higher Education'. This was followed by Dr Tim Hall (Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Higher Education) who discussed his report which was published at the beginning of the year on 'Key Skills Teaching in Geography in Higher Education'.

Dr Gordon Clark and Terry Wareham (Lancaster University) focused on the things that geography students can do to develop their own skills at university. Pre-print copies of their book 'Geography @ University: making the most of your geography degree and courses' were available.

Stuart Silk, a recent graduate from the College of St. Mark & St. John, gave a lively and informative presentation about the skills he learnt as an undergraduate and his experience of compiling a portfolio of evidence and reflection on the key skills he had developed through his geography course.

Ifan Shepherd (Middlesex University) presented a challenging argument to key skills teaching, advocating that higher education should concentrate on teaching about how skills can be transferred, rather than assuming that there is a general category of transferable skills.

The afternoon session was structured around a series of workshops on key skills of students on entry, facilitating students developing their skills, and promoting transferability, chaired by Dr Clive Agnew (University College London), Professor Hugh Matthews (University College Northampton) and Sue Burkill (College of St. Mark & St. John) respectively.

Professor Alan Jenkins (Oxford Brookes University) and Dr Pauline Kneale (University of Leeds) reflected on the main messages from the day, concluding that British geography at higher education level has actually come a long way in teaching key skills but that there is still a lot that needs to be done, particularly in communicating with schools and employers.

Among the points raised during the following plenary session were that:

The second seminar of this series 'Key Skills in the Geography Curriculum' took place at the RGS-IBG conference at the University of Sussex on Wednesday 5 January 2000.

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