GDN Title

Review of the GDN Guides to Good Teaching, Learning and Assessment Practices in Geography

Journal of Geography, vol. 99 (3/4), May/August 2000, pp.173-182

Guides to Good Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Practices in Geography
Phil Gravestock and Mick Healey, editors
Cheltenham, UK: Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education. 1998.
ISBN: 1861740239. £54.00 (paper).


Following their mission, in 1998 the Geography Discipline Network (GDN), based in the United Kingdom, completed production of ten guides to good teaching, learning, and assessment practices. A project team of geography experts and educational specialists wrote the guides, which cover pedagogical topics ranging from assessment to instructional technology to lecturing.

Phil Gravestock and Mick Healey edited the ten guides. They instructed each author or set of authors to incorporate an overview of the topic, a set of case studies, and an extensive bibliography. Each guide achieves these goals. While many of the case studies draw from the United Kingdom, the four reviewers in this symposium saw applications of the studies to issues in North American geographic education. The guides are aimed at instructors in higher education; nonetheless, the reviewers agree that many of the ideas presented are applicable to instructors at all educational levels. The contact names and addresses included with the case studies and the GDN's coordinating Web site1 provide opportunities for exchange on how to use ideas from the guides at different educational levels.

While the guides do address certain geographic concepts and skills, the main focus of each is pedagogy. In this central way, the guides differ from the mission of the National Council for Geographic Education's Pathways in Geography series. The Pathways series focuses on the teaching and learning of themes, concepts, and skills in geography. Many of the Pathways guides explain concepts in subdiscipline areas such as political and ethnic geography. Other Pathways guides explain how to teach concepts such as map skills and environmental issues. The GDN guides focus instead on the educational theory behind various pedagogy and explain how to make those pedagogy work in a variety of cases. As a result, learning concepts, subjects, and themes in various subdisciplines is a secondary result, not the primary focus, of the GDN guides.

The reviewers in this symposium offer North American perspectives on each of the various guides. Joan Maier, geography specialist in the Department of Education at the University of Houston - Clear Lake, focuses her research on technology in the classroom, map reading, and geographic literacy. Based on her background in education theory and curriculum development, Dr. Maier reviewed the guides on educational change, curriculum design, and assessment. Christopher Merrett, Associate Editor of the Journal of Geography and Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at Western Illinois University, focuses his geographic education research on teaching social justice. Bringing his strong background in pedagogy, Dr. Merrett reviewed the guides on lecturing and small-group teaching. Michael Solem, Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at South-west Texas State University, focuses his research on Internet-based teaching and instructional technology in geography. Dr. Solem reviewed the guides on resource-based learning and on teaching with information and communication technologies. Susan Hardwick, Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Oregon, and Lydia Bean, a Ph.D. candidate in geographic education at Southwest Texas State University, focus their geographic education research on distance education, fieldwork, and meeting the needs of special populations in geographic education. They reviewed the guides on fieldwork and dissertations, practicals and laboratory work, and transferable skills.

The GDN distributed the guides to all geography departments in the United Kingdom. Departments throughout North America should purchase the reasonably priced set of guides and make them available to professors and graduate students. Geographic educators in North America would benefit from supplementing their Pathways guides with the more pedagogically focused GDN guides. Each guide is concisely focused and easily digestible and can be read quickly. Like the Pathways publications, these guides will serve as references for geographic educators for many years to come.

Erin Hogan Fouberg, Book Review Editor, is Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography, Mary Washington College, Fredericksburg, Virginia 22401 USA.


1 GDN's Web site can be found at

Teaching and Learning Issues and Managing Educational Change in Geography
Vince Gardiner and Vaneeta D'Andrea
Cheltenham, UK: Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education. 1998.
ISBN: 1861740247. £3.95 (paper).

Assessment in Geography
Michael Bradford and Catherine O'Connell
Cheltenham, UK: Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education. 1998.
ISBN: 1861740328. £3.95 (paper).

Curriculum Design in Geography
Alan Jenkins
Cheltenham, UK: Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education. 1998.
ISBN: 1861740336. £7.95 (paper).

One of the persistent problems of pedagogy is how to unpack stored knowledge and to handle it in such a way as to facilitate optimum learning. (B. Othanlel Smith)

Given the rapid political, economic, technological, and social changes that are now commonplace in virtually every society, any attempt to identify the relationship between "what is" and "what should be" good practice in teaching, learning, and assessment of geography in higher education may not seem like a legitimate professional activity. Nevertheless, if we are to plan intelligently and with vision for the coming decades, then such efforts as demonstrated by the Geography Discipline Network (GDN) are not only greatly needed but should be commended by the entire Geography community. The framework of the GDN project that brought together individuals who represented the discipline of geography, other disciplines such as psychology, and professional educators, is a model for future projects addressing similar goals. The GDN produced, in all, ten printed guides and a resource database on the World Wide Web1 covering a range of current research-based teaching and learning methods that include recommendations and case studies for geography in higher education.

The guides, although written by a number of people with different points of view on the nature of educational issues facing geographers in higher education, address a number of common themes (e.g., maintaining standards; meeting the needs of students, employers, and community groups; involving students in the assessment process) that cross international borders. The common themes presented remind us that our individual and local geography educational problems are often similar to those faced by practitioners elsewhere. We must make our own individual and local decisions. Yet, our decision making can be informed by shared elements of pedagogical processes and issues. Geography professors and instructors, department heads, schools or colleges, and institutions in the United States concerned with improving geography learning would benefit greatly by using these resources for planning curriculum, teaching, and assessment.

The three specific guides reviewed in the succeeding paragraphs are Teaching and Learning Issues and Managing Educational Change in Geography by Vince Gardiner and Vaneeta-Marie D'Andrea, Curriculum Design in Geography by Alan Jenkins, and Assessment in Geography by Michael Bradford and Catherine O'Connell. The authors of each of these guides discuss current educational problems and related research, along with highlights and case studies of appropriate and practical solutions from teachers, programs, departments, and institutions in higher education. The authors avoid the temptation of spelling out specific plans or procedures, opting instead to provide more general information that enlightens and challenges reflective thinking about the present condition and future prospects of teaching and learning issues, curriculum problems, and assessment alternatives in geography.

These are not simply accounts of what is done, however; each has a sound theoretical base. The authors of all three guides acknowledge other philosophical positions, but admit and consistently advocate current pedagogical research and solutions in the constructivist tradition. They present their view of solutions to problems along with major references that a person in the field could use for further investigation. They do not include everything. Their choices have been calculated. Yet, all authors regard their guide as a place from which to begin other efforts that will hopefully go even further. The overall tone is one of cautious optimism; an appreciation of the work accomplished so far; and a positive, though guarded, perspective toward the future.

Gardiner and D'Andrea discuss such common teaching and learning issues as student diversity, demands of the market place, educational and staff development, and making change a part of the overall plan for improving teaching and learning. The case studies provide a more in-depth examination of some of these issues for teaching at individual, program, and institutional levels. In their discussion of teaching and learning issues for geographic education, they capture some of the energy and vitality of an emerging, constantly changing area. In this first decade of the new millennium, geographic education issues are important aspects of higher education but their definitions, scope, and future activities are not always clear or precise.

Jenkins provides help with different concepts and understandings of curricular planning activities and their effect on student learning. For anyone with limited curricular development background, this guide provides a crash course in curricular theory, design, implementation, and assessment. The Alvemo College approach to curriculum development, as an example of planning for institutional change, is extremely though provoking. Several institutions in the United States have implemented relevant features of the Alverno approach with similar success. In addition to references, a guide to other resources, which includes both printed material and Web sites, is a practical and useful addition.

Bradford and O'Connell provide an excellent discussion, grounded on research in assessment, with practical suggestions and examples for alternative strategies that range from developing essay exam questions to self- and peer assessment to computer-assisted assessment. The sections that recommend methods for improving "marking reliability," matching learning objectives with assessment, and using technology to provide enriched feedback on student coursework are especially helpful. Again, the case studies generate thinking about possible solutions to similar teaching and learning problems such as using staff time more effectively and diversifying assessment. Educators have come to recognize that very little happens by itself in an organization. Success in education is almost never the result of sheer luck. It is, instead, the outcome of careful planning. Thorough, collaborative, and cooperative planning of curriculum, teaching, and assessment based on current research is the operation that has the greatest potential of establishing a strong foundation for implementation of effective teaching. Effective teaching of geography would have a positive impact on the learning of geography. There is now a knowledge base and experience, thanks to this work developed by GDN, that can be valuable to all concerned with improving the teaching of geography. These guides provide a readable, usable, and practical summary of some of the most commonly shared pedagogical problems and possible solutions. They can become for many of us another setting for engagements of our minds and exploration for the enhancement of geography in higher education. The guides are one major resource offered and they should be useful to many. I am pleased to invite reflective attention to this set of guides developed by the Geography Discipline Network.

Joan Maier is Geography Specialist in the Department of Education, University of Houston - Clear Lake, Houston, Texas 77058 USA.


1 GDN's Website can be found at

Lecturing in Geography
Clive Agnew and Lewis Elton
Cheltenham, UK: Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education. 1998.
ISBN: 1861740255. £5.95 (paper).

Small-group Teaching in Geography
Cordon Clark and Terry Wareham
Cheltenham, UK: Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education. 1998.
ISBN: 1861740263. £3.95 (paper).

It is paradoxical that professors, who spend half their time teaching (Ericksen 1984, 158), seldom receive formal teaching training. Doctoral programs train their students to assume jobs at research institutions where teaching is a secondary consideration-separate from research and often done by underpaid graduate students or temporary faculty (Nelson 1997). Recently, however, geographers have begun to pay more attention to teaching for practical and philosophical reasons.

From a practical standpoint, geography departments need students to survive. If geographers are not good teachers, student enrollments will decline, bringing into question the future of the department (Abler 2000). Also, politicians and parents increasingly have scrutinized curricula and teaching methods (Gold et al. 1991). University administrators have responded by forcing faculty to assess teaching quality and student outcomes.

Philosophically speaking, the ideas originating in good research only matter if they are communicated in an effective manner. And good teaching requires courses to reflect current research in the field. This exposes the myth that research and good teaching are mutually exclusive (Freire 1998). Ironically, few doctoral programs train their students to be good teachers. Teaching skills develop haphazardly when teaching assistants, with scant preparation, are thrust in front of students.

Fortunately, some geographers are working to improve the quality of teaching in higher education. The Geography Discipline Network (GDN) has produced a series of wonderful teaching manuals. This review examines two excellent, concisely written books from this series. Part one of this review examines Lecturing in Geography by Agnew and Elton (1998). Part two reviews Small-group Teaching in Geography by Clark and Wareham (1998). The concluding section reconsiders the need for good researchers to become good teachers too.

According to Agnew and Elton (p. 1) the word lecture is derived from the medieval Latin word lectura, meaning "to read aloud," which helps explain why most of us have endured (or even delivered) a boring lecture. If lectures are tedious, the authors ask, why bother with them? They respond that lectures are useful for two reasons. First, they are efficient. Lectures can cost-effectively enroll large numbers of students. Introductory courses often rely on 500-page textbooks laden with factual material (e.g., deBlij and Muller 1997). Lectures can help the teacher plan the course, ensuring that the textbook is covered by the end of the semester. The authors even suggest that lectures can help improve "cognitive skills such as memorizing facts" (p. i). External factors also make the lecture indispensable. A growing number of students are attending university but the number of tenure-track faculty has not increased commensurately. With fixed resources, universities hire temporary instructors to teach large introductory lectures.

Second, lectures can be entertaining and pedagogically sound, if teachers are creative. Agnew and Elton accept that lectures are a pragmatic response to real problems, but they ask what is wrong with lectures? And, can students actually learn from lectures? Formal lectures, where the teacher delivers a 50-minute monologue to students, have several drawbacks. As class sizes increase, teachers are less able to give individual attention to students. Detractors also criticize the authoritarian teacher-student relationship that underlies the lecture monologue (Freire 1998). Instead of passively receiving knowledge, students should be encouraged to discuss ideas with the teacher and other students (Mayo 1999). Finally, the authors note how ideas flow from lecture notes to the student in a stepwise fashion (Table 1). At each step, misunderstandings can occur. If this happens, the lack of time and the authoritarian role of the teacher may inhibit students from asking questions or challenging ideas presented in class.

Table 1. The dissemination and translation of knowledge in lectures (Agnew and Elton, p.11).

What the teacher planned to say in the lecture

What the teacher thought was said in the lecture

What was actually said in the lecture

What the students wrote down in their notes

What the students remembered during an exam

What the students regained after graduation

Despite these shortcomings, the authors do not abandon the lecture format. Instead, they recommend an overhaul. By moving from passive to interactive lectures, student learning changes from an unreflective, shallow acquisition of facts, to a deep understanding of concepts facilitated by reflection and critical thinking. Agnew and Elton offer nine recommendations to foster critical thinking during lectures.

First, teachers should evaluate their presentation style. Good introductory material, appropriate body language, and clarity of speech are key to a successful lecture. Second, teachers must be aware of how their lectures are structured. This structure must be communicated to students at the beginning of each class. As the lecture unfolds, the teacher must signal when a new topic begins. Third, a reflective lecture requires that students have opportunities to talk. Hence, the teacher must shorten the lecture to provide time for discussion. The authors recognize that getting students to talk can be challenging. They suggest group activities such as brainstorming or "buzz groups" that can facilitate discussion.

The fourth recommendation describes how to encourage thoughtful note taking. Ideas five and six suggest ways to design effective visual aids. The authors further suggest that students can learn outside of class, for example, by having access to overheads used during the lecture. The last three chapters identify challenges such as coping with problem students and the increased effort needed to transition from formal to active learning lectures.

Overall, this book is an excellent resource. It is clearly written and provides very practical ways to enliven lectures. In fact, new doctoral students should read this book before they teach their first courses. More broadly, the ideas presented are useful for anybody who has to communicate to large groups of people, whether in high school, higher education, or in a public service setting.

Research shows that teaching in small groups can resolve many problems that plague lectures (McKeachie 1994). More opportunities are available for dialogue and debate. And because more time is spent on discussion and reflection, students are more likely to take responsibility for their own learning. Most importantly, research shows that students perform better, and retain more knowledge in smaller vs. larger classes (McKeachie 1994).

Clark and Wareham present reasons why small classes are not more prevalent in higher education. From a practical standpoint, small group teaching is costly in terms of time and human resources. Second, seminars undermine the dominant position of the teacher. In traditional lectures a line of authority separates the omnipotent teacher from the passive student. A successful seminar requires the teacher to relinquish some control. This may dismay insecure teachers who resent intellectually challenging students. However, teachers must be flexible to give students the confidence to become critical thinkers. And just as the teacher's role changes in a seminar, so too does the role of the student. It may unnerve students to be asked to contribute so much to the discussion. The relationship between students can change too. Are they friends, rivals, or colleagues? Although the authors do not provide a solution to this problem, other commentators argue that teachers should foster a collegial environment conducive to cooperative, not competitive, learning (Freire1998).

Finally, the authors discuss student assessment. Seminars are supposedly superior to lectures because more dialogue occurs among all participants. Because verbal communication is an important element, it should be considered in student assessment. But invariably, students do not participate to the same degree. Some learn just by listening, while others attempt to monopolize the discussion. The teacher must manage the group dynamic so that all students have opportunities to share ideas.

The teacher must also determine how to assess verbal contributions made in the classroom. Clark and Wareham suggest that students work with each other on practical tasks where ideas can be applied. For example, students might develop a questionnaire to apply ideas about research design. They can participate in debates or role-playing exercises. Students can also be coaxed into discussions by having them lead a seminar on a particular reading or topic. By assigning projects that ask students to write and then report on their work, teachers will have a more concrete basis for assigning grades.

In sum, Clark and Wareham provide an excellent primer on how to operate a small group tutorial or seminar. They offer concrete suggestions and refer the reader to case studies posted on the GDN Web site1. While the text focuses primarily on teaching undergraduates, it also provides valuable advice for teaching graduate seminars and small groups in high schools.

Overall, these two books compare very favorably with other respected books devoted to teaching practices (e.g., Gold et al. 1991). However, the GDN books deliver in a more succinct manner most of the ideas found in Gold et al. (1991). Each new faculty member at Western Illinois University is given a free copy of McKeachie's (1994) Teaching Tips. Again, this is a valuable resource for new teachers. However, at 432 pages, new faculty might not have the time to fully digest its contents. The GDN texts therefore fill an important niche by providing pithy information for neophyte teachers beginning new courses and for experienced teachers who want to reinvigorate their lectures. Both books provide context for why lectures and small-group teaching both have merit. They identify the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. Most importantly, the books provide concrete examples of how to implement new tactics for lecturing or conducting seminars, and the interconnection between the books and the GDN Web site further bolsters the utility of these teaching resources.

While my overall evaluation of the books is overwhelmingly positive, I would like to make one suggestion for improvement. The role of ethics in teaching should be made more explicit. Again, most graduate students learn about ethics in research, but seldom do they receive explicit advice on ethics in the classroom. Ethics in the classroom implies, among other things, treating students with respect, not denigrating their ideas, giving the best effort in every lecture or seminar, and providing "space" in the classroom for student diversity (McKeachie1994, Freire 1998, Hooks 1994). But this comment is not so much a criticism, as a suggestion for further development within the GDN. The authors of these books and the leaders of the GDN have done an excellent job. They eloquently convey the message that teaching is as important as research in higher education-a message that doctoral programs and future faculty ignore at their peril.

Christopher Merrett is Associate Professor in the Department of Geography, Western Illinois University, Macomb, Illinois 61455 LISA.


1 GDN's Web site can be found at


Abler, R. 2000. Guest presidential column: Five steps to oblivion, II. AAG Newsletter 35(1):3-4.

DeBlij, H., and P. Muller. 1997. Geography: Realms, Regions, and Concepts. New York: John Wiley.

Ericksen, S. 1984. The Essence of Good Teaching. San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Freire, P. 1998. Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage. New York: Rowman and Littlefield.

Gold, I., A. Jenkins, R. Lee, J. Monk, J. Riley, I. Shepherd, and D. Unwin. 1991. Teaching Geography in Higher Education: A Manual of Good Practice. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Blackwell.

Hooks, B. 1994. Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York: Routledge.

Mayo, P. 1999. Gramsci, Freire and Adult Education: Possibilities for Transformative Action. London: Zed Books.

McKeachie, W. 1994. Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers. Ninth edition. Lexington, Massachusetts: D.C. Heath.

Nelson, C. 1997. Manifesto of a Tenured Radical. New York: New York University Press.

Resource-based Learning in Geography
Mick Healey
Cheltenham, UK: Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education. 1998.
ISBN: 1861740298. £8.95 (paper).

Teaching and Learning Geography with Information and Communication Technologies
Ifan Shepherd
Cheltenham, UK: Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education. 1998.
ISBN: 1861740301. £8.95 (paper).

Resource-based Learning in Geography by Mick Healey and Teaching and Learning Geography with Information and Communication Technologies by Ifan Shepherd are two books in a series of ten Guides to Good Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Practices in Geography published by the United Kingdom-based Geography Discipline Network (GDN). Both authors concern themselves with applications of instructional media in the university geography classroom. Although the books were written for a United Kingdom audience, geography educators "across the pond" will find much in the way of helpful information and sound advice.

Healey's book reviews various forms of resource-based learning (RBL), discusses research-based principles for good practice with RBL, and provides the reader with suggestions for introducing RBL practices to his or her department. I had never come across the term resource-based learning prior to reviewing this book, yet I quickly discovered that RBL is precisely how I approach teaching geography in my own courses. Healey defines RBL as "learning schemes where the emphasis is on the use by students of print and electronic-based learning resources." RBL resources can range in scope from exercises that stimulate active learning in lectures, to learning packs and course readers, to a fully autonomous distance-education course. The defining characteristic of RBL, as I see it, would be the use of some sort of instructional material that students directly use in their learning, as opposed to the conventional situation where students are expected to learn geography by mostly listening to a lecturer. Hence, RBL is designed to encourage student-centered approaches to instruction as an alter-native to didactic, lecture-based geography courses.

Chapters 1-3 provide an overview of RBL and its potential strengths and weaknesses. In reading these chapters I was struck by the similarity of issues facing geographers teaching in different institutional and geographic contexts. Healey discusses the need to explore new avenues of instruction in the wake of rampant dissatisfaction with large lecture-courses, an increasingly diverse student body, and pressures on faculty, departments, and institutions to become more efficient and effective in the delivery of curricula. RBL, according to Healey, can address these issues by promoting active learning and student engagement, offering more meaningful assessments, increasing access to learning resources, providing greater flexibility to instructors, and developing life-long learning skills.

Healey is realistic in his appraisal of RBL. He cites some potential problems, including the often formidable costs and time requirements for developing materials; the ineffectiveness of poorly designed materials; resistance from faculty, students, and administration who are unfamiliar with RBL; and the lack of systematic studies on learning outcomes from RBL resources. Nevertheless, Healey is clearly championing the idea of RBL and else-where in the book offers ameliorative solutions to readers.

Chapters 4 and 5 present a discussion of learning theories of particular relevance to RBL. Here, Healey is careful to point out that effective instructional design requires an understanding of how people learn-an axiom of good practice that is too often ignored in higher education. Healey goes onto evaluate strategies for using videos, maps, geographics, cooperative learning exercises, field studies, laboratory equipment, and the Internet as RBL teaching tools.

After this overview of teaching and learning principles, Chapters 6-8 discuss various RBL adoption, production, and implementation issues. Acknowledging that faculty and students may receive RBL with some skepticism, Healey advocates a "think big, start small" approach to gradually phasing in RBL curricula through integration with existing instructional resources. The success of RBL depends on the quality of materials, and Healey devotes considerable discussion to effective presentation and organization of learning activities. Importantly, students and faculty may require support in the form of training, learning facilities, and institutional incentives before RBL can be widely practiced in a department. Healey has developed a workshop for departments interested in implementing RBL locally that is available from the author. The remaining chapters consist of an extended review of RBL case studies and a guide to references and resources cited throughout the book.

The book is attractively illustrated and clearly organized. Throughout, Healey includes activities that provide opportunities for reflection and reaction by the reader, allowing him or her to "take ownership" of the book's ideas. Also, each chapter includes sidebar descriptions of case studies that provide additional context to the arguments made in the text. This book is not a tutorial or tool kit for creating RBL materials, but is instead a handy resource for educators beginning to experiment with RBL in their teaching. In sum, Healey's book serves as a manual for achieving good practice with teaching materials and should be read by new and seasoned instructors alike.

Shepherd's book focuses on the educational use of information and communication technologies (ICT). Its stated purpose is to examine how, when, and where ICT can enhance the teaching and learning of geography. A broad variety of ICT are covered, including CD-ROM, Internet, World Wide Web, GIS, computer games, presentation software, word processing software, and mapping software. Importantly, Shepherd emphasizes the role of ICT in effectively supplementing, as opposed to replacing, human contact in the teaching-learning process. The book stresses that people, not computers, hold the key to best practice in undergraduate education. Hence, proper attention must be given to the interplay between instructional design, learning theory, and ICT. Shepherd devotes more attention to practical suggestions for implementing ICT and only briefly sketches the theoretical dimensions of the practice. Yet his suggestions are always carefully referenced, and the reader is encouraged to explore the related literature at leisure.

The book is organized in three chapters. Chapter one addresses many frequently asked questions that college instructors have of teaching and learning with ICT. The questions deal mostly with issues and problems related to ICT and teaching methods, implementation, characteristics of effective instructional materials, and student skills and learning preferences. Chapter two is the meat and potatoes of the book, offering the reader 25 suggestions ("Contributions," as Shepherd calls them) for using ICT to improve existing practice, solve specific teaching and learning problems, and approach the study of geography in new ways. Each contribution has a context statement describing a problem or opportunity. The chapter begins with a handy key that directs the reader to a particular contribution of interest (e.g., using the Internet to prepare students for fieldwork). The final chapter consists of extended descriptions of three special cases of ICT computer multimedia, the Internet, and the World Wide Web-as a service to those of us who are new to the world of instructional technology. A glossary of technical terms concludes the book.

Once again, this book is clearly organized and easy to use, although I would have preferred to see chapter three placed before chapter two. This alternative sequence would better acquaint the novice ICT user with particular computer technologies before reviewing their potential instructional applications. Like Healey, Shepherd introduces case studies to illustrate his point, yet uses fewer examples from outside the United Kingdom. This may prevent some readers from following the author's suggestion to contact individuals profiled in the book. Yet, as we have seen, growing numbers of geographers are using the Web to build collaborations with colleagues overseas. Overall, these are minor criticisms of a very timely, well-written piece of work that arrives in a period of rapid change in geography education.

Michael Solem is Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning, Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas 78666 USA.

Practicals and Laboratory Work in Geography
Jacky Birnie and Kristine Mason O'Connor
Cheltenham, UK: Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education. l998.
ISBN: 1861740271. £5.95 (paper).

Fieldwork and Dissertations in Geography
Ian Livingstone, Hugh Matthews, and Andrew Castley
Cheltenham, UK: Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education. 1998.
ISBN: 186174028X. £4.95 (paper).

Transferable Skills and Work-based Learning in Geography
Brian Chalkley and June Harwood
Cheltenham, UK: Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education. 1998.
ISBN: 186174031X. £4.95 (paper).

The guides reviewed here focus on good practice in geography teaching and learning and are three of ten books produced by the Geography Discipline Network (GDN) as part of a Higher Education Funding Council for England and Department of Education for Northern Ireland Fund for the Development of Teaching and Learning project. Co-edited and developed by colleagues Phil Gravestock and Mick Healey, active leaders in the GDN, this useful series provides geographic educators with practical and quite well written ideas for improving teaching and learning in their own class-rooms.

The first book, Practicals and Laboratory Work in Geography, is co-authored by a geographer and an educational and staff developer at Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education. It provides guidelines for instructors interested in developing and teaching courses integrating practical skills in geography and laboratory classes. The book begins with a review of the reasons practical work is useful in geographic education, followed by a review of research on the effectiveness of laboratory teaching, consideration of transferable skills in practical teaching and learning, and checklists to assist instructors in analyzing the purpose of their own practicals. Thirteen case studies are presented to illustrate ideas discussed in this handy volume.

Educators in the United States may not be familiar with the term practicals. Citing Horobin et al. (p. 3), the authors begin by defining this approach to teaching as

A material, which may be anything from a document to a stone, from a set of mechanical or electrical components to sets of solutions, or people, maps, photographs, or machines.

A script bearing a task or tasks. This might, for instance, be to construct or run equipment, record in drawing and writing a report on specimens, to analyze text, to prepare a specimen of some kind, perform bodily functions, and to record oneself doing it.

A protocol which explicitly describes a method or methods relevant to the task.

An appropriate environment for facilitating the performing of the task. There may be a laboratory with handy benches, balances for weighing, computers, fume hoods, wide tables for maps, safety equipment. In field work the environment provides the materials for the class as well as its operation setting. For instance, a chalk down, a high street, library, museum, or workplace of some kind.

Helpful details about what actually occurs in a practical session follow these preliminary definitions. Central to effective teaching of this type of geography lesson are three aims, including illustrating a theoretical concept, providing experience of doing science, and training in skills. Of particular note in this book is the use of boxed quotes from "real world" geography professors, teachers, graduate students, and others grappling with issues discussed in the narrative. These stories and quotes, such as the "true confessions of a Ph.D. student," help personalize the numerous lists and tables presented in this volume.

The section entitled "The Value of Learning by Doing," presented in part three of this book, will prove especially useful to North American educators committed to active learning strategies in geographic education. Discussions and examples of inquiry learning, deep vs. surface learning, and reflective learning relate directly to many curricular reform efforts in the United States stressing active learning, such as the Association of American Geographer's ARGUS project and the Virtual Geography Department project at the University of Texas.

Fieldwork and Dissertations in Geography, co-authored by a trio of educators at University College Northampton, provides guidelines for instructors interested in developing and teaching fieldcourses and helping students write required undergraduate dissertations in geography. The book is in two parts. The first focuses on fieldwork; the second deals with the development and writing of student dissertations.

Unlike other volumes in the series, each of these topics stands alone, although both field experiences and written dissertation projects are required in most British geography degree programs. In the United States, fieldwork is often completely overlooked as a part of geography undergraduate programs, and research-based dissertations are often reserved for advanced graduate students. This book will prove useful to geography educators in North America, however, not only because of its non-prescriptive approach to "good practice" in geography teaching and learning, but also because of its many solid and quite well-defended arguments supporting the importance of fieldwork and student research projects as integral parts of geographic education.

Three field-based case studies provide especially useful illustrations of ways to incorporate geographic content and skills through the use of field-work in geography. The first case study, "Street-work: An Encounter with Place," explores symbols and meanings in urban places and would be useful in a cultural or urban geography course. "Student-Authored Fieldtrails" is a field exercise developed for a geomorphology course. The authors make it clear that this second case study could also be used in other geography courses, including human geography. The final case study is "Self-paced Distance Learning Packages for Large Group Fieldwork," which encourages the teacher to serve as facilitator and coach and students to work as autonomous learners. These distance-based learning packages include study manuals, booklets, clear instructions, encouragement for active participation, and ample reference material.

The advantages and disadvantages of requiring undergraduates to complete research-based dissertations are presented in part two of this book. A few of the reasons given for this type of learning activity include encouraging students to develop independence and originality, enhance their organizational skills, apply geography knowledge and skills, and deepen learning. Managing the process of developing a dissertation, helping students choose a research topic, and assessing the final product are also presented in this part of the book.

Transferable Skills and Work-based Learning in Geography is co-authored by a geographer and an educational development specialist at the University of Plymouth. It provides a strong and effective rationale for incorporating efforts to help students master geographic skills that not only assist them in their future search for meaningful employment opportunities, but also deepen their understanding of basic geography concepts and enhance their comfort level using the geographic perspective. The relationship between skills mastery and employment accountability are key elements facing geography educators working on both sides of the Atlantic. In the United States, for example, the national standards movement was precipitated in large part by efforts to bring the skills levels of American students up to par with those in other nations. Colleges and universities are increasingly called upon to train students to master employable skills as well as handle academic content. The authors of this helpful book delve into issues related to this important realm of geographic training and provide a well written discourse supporting the importance of developing transferable skills in our students.

The book is especially effective in its discussion of designing a skills-based curriculum, developing joint degree programs, and assessing skills mastery. Rubrics for assessing seminar presentations, grading essays, and evaluating individual contributions to group work should prove useful for geography educators at not only the college and university level, but also in secondary geography classrooms.

Internships for upper division students are required, or at least encourages, in many geography departments in North America as well as in the United Kingdom. Section four, "Employer Links and Work-based Learning," provides information on making contact with potential employers as all-important links to the student learning process.

We highly recommend each of these important volumes in the impressive GDN series to geography educators in the United States. The guides not only provide new ideas for expanding support and motivation for students enrolled in our geography classes and programs but also suggest innovative ways to teach and learning geography. Our gratitude goes to the series editors, Phil Gravestock and Mick Healey for successfully meeting their goal of developing and editing guides that are "written in a user-friendly style and structured so that busy lecturers [can] dip into them to find information and examples relevant to their needs."

Susan Hardwick is Associate Professor in the Department of Geography, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, 97403 USA.

Lydia Bean is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Geography and Planning, Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas 78666 USA.

The Geography Discipline Network would like to thank the National Council for Geographic Education and the Journal of Geography for permission to reproduce this review.

National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE)

Journal of Geography
Elizabeth Leppman, Editor
Department of Geography
St. Cloud State University
720 Fourth Ave. S
St. Cloud, MN 56301

Abstracts from the Journal of Geography which relate to geography in higher education are hosted on the GDN Web pages.

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