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Summaries of the DfEE-funded 'Key Skills in Geography in Higher Education' Guides

Key Skills: Teaching and Learning for Transfer
Assessing and Recording a Skills-based Curriculum
Improving Students' Communication Skills
Improving Students' Numeracy Skills
Improving Students' Team and Personal Skills
Improving Students Problem-solving and Thinking Skills
Improving Students' Skills Through Work-based Learning
Geography@University: making the most of your geography degree and courses

 

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Key Skills: Teaching and Learning for Transfer

Ifan Shepherd

This guide examines people's ability to use their skills in applications and contexts for which they have not been explicitly trained. It focuses on the portability of skills between different parts of the academic curriculum, between academia and the world of work and between formal study and informal living. In particular, it explores ways in which students of geography and related disciplines can acquire and develop the ability to transfer their skills to a variety of other situations. Along the way it attempts to clear away some misconceptions from current thinking about so-called 'transferable skills', and provides a broader discussion of the idea of skills transfer.

The specific aims of this guide are:

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Assessing and Recording a Skills-based Curriculum

Ian Livingstone and Hugh Matthews

Key skills are now a major feature of our degree schemes. Many would argue that the skills associated with communication and literacy, graphicacy and numeracy have always been there implicitly. What has changed is that we now need to be much more explicit about these skills; and assessment and recording help us and our students to articulate and track achievements. We need to be explicit for our own benefit as teaching staff so that we are clear who is delivering which skills where in the course, not least so that we can build on what has gone before and lay the foundations for work we might wish to do later in the course.

This guide is intended as an introduction to the issues associated with assessing and recording key skills in a geography curriculum in higher education. The intention throughout is to raise the issues associated with assessing and recording key skills and provide examples of the way in which staff delivering geography courses have tackled these issues.

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Improving Students' Communication Skills

Sue Burkill, Derry Corey and Mick Healey

This guide is concerned with one key skill, that of communication. We believe that the skill of communication is probably the most important skill of all. There is nothing new in the idea that students need to be able to communicate well - good students have always been good communicators. In fact it is so important that we often assume that our students arrive in higher education with well developed communication skills and, therefore, that we can let these skills mature without having to do too much to support their development. This is no longer the case for many students or for most institutions.

Our focus is on providing practical advice on how staff might plan for, implement and assess communication skills as part of a geography degree course. Above all we try to give a flavour of the sorts of activities that can be used to help our students develop effective communication skills, while retaining the primary focus of 'doing' interesting and rigorous geography degrees.

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Improving Students' Numeracy Skills

Clive Agnew

The aim of this guide is to help higher education geography teachers to develop a strategy for the learning and teaching of numerical skills. The guide addresses four key questions:

The guide is structured around three chapters that cover:

The purpose of the guide is to present the types of numerical skills required by geography students and to review methods by which these may be learned in higher education.

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Improving Students' Team and Personal Skills

Michael Bradford

The guide discusses personal and teamwork skills, and advances a rationale for their development and critically evaluates possible resistance to them; explores a number of contexts of teaching and learning in which teamwork and personal skills might be delivered; and places personal and teamwork skills in a wider perspective, to stimulate thought on how a curriculum might be developed.

The aims of this guide are to:

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Improving Students' Problem-solving and Thinking Skills

Vince Gardiner and Karel Hughes

Perhaps the most fundamental characteristic of university-level education is that it requires students to develop the abilities to think for themselves, to question the perceived wisdoms, to be critical, evaluative and questioning, and to find the answers to problems, both real and imaginary. These all require very specific yet, paradoxically, very ill-defined skills. No teacher in higher education would deny their importance, yet few would agree on any precisely defined list of what constitutes problem-solving and thinking skills for geography students in higher education. For many the list might be phrased by using words which would include: "gathering information, making decisions, thinking critically, evaluate, hypothesise, think laterally, be critical, analyse, demonstrate initiative and inventiveness".

It is against this somewhat curious background of universal acceptance yet lack of consensus that this guide is developed. The guide considers the status of problem-solving and thinking skills in higher education; discusses the conceptual underpinnings of problem-solving in cognitive psychological terms; and introduces some examples of good practice.

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Improving Students' Skills Through Work-based Learning

Brian Chalkley

The purpose of this guide is to explore ways in which students' key skills can be advanced by the experience of work-based learning. The focus is therefore on identifying practices which will enable students to use work experience as an arena for developing their skills. The discussion is not confined to placements organised by higher education institutions as formal parts of the curriculum. Increasingly, financial pressures are compelling students to take on part-time and vacation work. The guide explores the skills learning which can be derived from this and other forms of extra-curricular activity.

Attention is given, where appropriate, to the limitations as well as the potential benefits of learning from work. The guide discusses the main questions which geography staff might wish to raise about the connections between key skills and work experience. The intention is to focus on practical advice and the promotion of good practice. This guide will be of interest to all higher education geography staff and especially those involved in curriculum planning and debates around issues such as key skills, profiling, employability, graduate careers, employer links and work-based learning.

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Geography@University: making the most of your geography degree and courses

Gordon Clark and Terry Wareham

Aimed at students who are about to start on a geography degree, or who have already started one, this guide explains how to get the most out of the course, with the aim of becoming a better geographer and more employable.

The guide:


Guides to Key Skills in Geography in Higher Education

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