Wikle, T.A. & Lightfoot, D.R. (1997) 96(1), pp.23-30.
Stoltman, J.P. (1997) 96(1), pp.32
Sommers, B.J. (1997) 96(5), pp.243-249.
Raubal, M., Gaupman, B. & Kuhn, W. (1997) 96(5), pp.258-263.

Wikle, T.A. & Lightfoot, D.R. (1997) The Stream Table in Physical Geography Instruction, Journal of Geography, 96(1), pp.23-30.


A stream table provides a simple, cost-effective method for introducing students to fluvial processes in landscape development. Through modelling, stream tables (flumes) can help students better visualize dynamic channel processes that can be difficult to teach, such as stream meandering, erosion, transportation, and deposition. Because individual parameters can be controlled, the table allows students to examine the effects of individual influences on channel development, such as changes caused by variation in gradient or discharge. The activities outlined here can be expanded for use in introductory or advanced physical geography courses as classroom demonstrations, or hands-on measurement of fluvial processes.

Keywords: stream table, flume, fluvial processes, physical geography.

Return to author index.
Return to table of abstracts.

Stoltman, J.P. (1997), The International Charter on Geographical Education: Setting the Curriculum Standard, Journal of Geography, 96(1), pp.32.


The Commission on Geographical Education (CGE) of the International Geographical Union (IGU) prepared and published the International Charter on Geographical Education. This article provides a brief history of context in which the Charter was developed beginning with a brief review of the nature and activities of the Commission and the reasons it developed the Charter. First, let's look at how the Commission on Geographical Education fits into the larger IGU structure.

The Commission on Geographical Education is part of a parent geographical organization, the International Geographical Union, which sponsors within its structure a wide range of commissions, study groups, and committees that represent the subfields of geography internationally. The membership of the International Geographical Union is composed principally of countries, not individual geographers. Member countries have national committees whose members are from the academic and professional societies and governmental and non-governmental organizations that represent the discipline in that country. The U.S. National Committee is organized through the National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences, and the National Council for Geographic Education appoints one member.

If we continue up the ladder of scientific organizations, there is another tier to which the Internationl Geographical Union belongs. It is the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), a non-governmental organization based in Paris. Membership in ICSU is by Scientific Union, such as the IGU, and National Academy of Sciences, which represent countries. There are more than 20 scientific unions with membership in the International Council of Scientific Unions, ranging from geography to physics. Combined, the union membership of ICSU is representative of the physical and natural sciences and many of their sub-specialties.

What is the history of the Commission on Geographical Education? It was started as a special committee of the IGU during the 1952 Congress held in Washington, DC. Forty years later ( 1992), the Commission held its symposium and congress sessions in Boulder, Colorado, and Washington, DC, respectively. The CGE was the largest of the symposia in terms of participation, with more than 300 geography educators attending. During the 40-year interim (1952-1992), the CGE sponsored symposia in the United Kingdom, Sweden, India, Canada, New Zealand, USSR, Nigeria, Costa Rica, Japan, Brazil, The Netherlands, West Germany, France, Spain, Australia, Hong Kong, and China. Since 1992, the Commission has met in Germany, the Czech Republic, Cuba, Russia, Argentina, and The Netherlands. A geography educator with aspirations to develop projects with colleagues in other nations immediately recognizes the opportunities which the CGE presents.

What mission does the CGE have within the IGU? The Commission focuses exclusively upon the enhancement of geographic education through teaching and research internationally. The CGE has five major goals that guide its activities:

  1. to promote the agenda of the International Geographical Union in its quest to enhance geography and geographical education internationally;
  2. to enhance the place of geographical education in school, higher, vocational, and community education as adopted in the International Charter on Geographical Education;
  3. to develop the research capacity in geographical education internationally;
  4. to promote cross-cultural investigations of issues of international concern in geographical education; and
  5. to develop a public awareness of geography and its importance internationally.

The International Charter on Geographical Education is the most important policy statement from the Commission. Its development was initiated in 1988, and the Charter was published in English in 1992 and subsequently translated and published in 20 languages. The Charter serves two important purposes for geographical education in the international arena. First, it is a political message for policy makers that the teaching and learning of geography is important for the well-being of a country and its people, as well as that country's capacity to function in a global age. Second, the Charter has an educational message for curriculum planners that informs them of what geographical education should strive toward and the general standards to which it should aspire. Since its publication, the Charter has been influential in many places. As the United States continues with its reform- and standards-based curriculum design challenges, the Charter should be reviewed by U.S. teachers, curriculum specialists, administrators, faculty members in higher education departments that prepare geography and social studies teachers, boards of education, and politicians. The Charter clearly sets the curriculum standard that "In order to guarantee a sound preparation for the future, geography should be considered as a core subject in both primary and secondary school curricula."

 National Council for Geographic Education
 Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA 15705 JOURNAL OF GEOGRAPHY

Return to author index.
Return to table of abstracts.

Sommers, B.J. (1997), The Freshman Year Experience and Geography: Linking Student Retention and the Introductory Geography Curriculum, Journal of Geography, 96(5), pp.243-249.


To improve student retention and to combat problems of declining enrollments, many colleges are turning to freshman or first year experience (FYE) programs. These programs are designed to aid students in the transition to college, and in doing so make students more satisfied and more successful in their new environments. FYE programs are offered in many forms, one of which is to offer FYE instruction as an integral part of the existing curriculum. Using existing courses makes the inclusion of introductory geography courses viable for FYE programs. The inclusion of FYE-related materials in an Introduction to Geography course, as illustrated here, can result in greater student satisfaction with faculty and the institution as a whole, higher rates of retention, and student skill development without a significant loss in geographic course content. Although the resulting improvements may be modest, when projected over an entire incoming class, even small gains may affect significant numbers of students. Participation in FYE may give geography programs greater exposure to incoming students and could help to attract new majors to the discipline. Key words: Freshman Year Experience, student retention, instruction.

Return to author index.
Return to table of abstracts.

Raubal, M., Gaupman, B. and Kuhn, W. (1997), Teaching Raster G.I.S. Operations with Spreadsheets, Journal of Geography, 96(5), pp.258-263.


Many universities are introducing courses to teach students the principles of geographic information systems (GIS). In addition to lectures, exercises with commercial GIS software are offered to show basic operations. Although students learn to execute such operations, the software may hide their internal structure and logic. We propose using a spreadsheet program as a teaching tool for raster operations such as filter and overlay. Spreadsheets offer a practical way to demonstrate and experiment with raster operations, because the raster structure is captured in the form of rows and columns. With this tool, students are able to perform and visualize operations as well as to see how the data are processed by the algorithms. Our approach is new in that we concentrate on the algorithms of operations. We make explicit which raster functions are actually evaluated when performing a particular operation. We conclude that there are good reasons for using spreadsheets in comparison to traditional GIS software when teaching raster operations. These are demonstration in class, simple user interface, familiarity to students, low cost, flexibility of changing cell values, ease of changing parameters, easy programming environment, and the possibility to look behind the scenes of operations by viewing the code.

Key words: spreadsheets, raster GIS, macro 1anguage, visualization.

Return to author index.
Return to table of abstracts.

The GDN would like to thank the Journal of Geography for allowing us to reproduce abstracts from the journal.

Created by Claire Reid.
Page created 8th December 1999.
Last updated 11th May 2000.