Journal of Geography in Higher Education

Volume 20 Number 2 1996


Learning in Small Groups in University Geography Courses: designing a core module around group projects

MICK HEALEY, Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education, Cheltenham, UK
HUGH MATTHEWS, Nene College of Higher Education, Northampton, UK
IAN LIVINGSTONE, Nene College of Higher Education, Northampton, UK
IAN FOSTER, Coventry University, UK

ABSTRACT
As class sizes have increased and staff-student ratios have worsened, group work has been seen as one way in which the quality of the learning experience for students may be maintained or improved. This paper focuses on the use of learning in small groups to undertake geography projects. We explore how the advantages for students and staff of learning through group project work may be achieved, and how the potential disadvantages can be reduced or overcome. This is done in the context of a case study of a course for final-year undergraduate geography students which the authors taught for two years at Coventry University, UK, which was designed around a field course and two eight-week group projects.

* 1996 Index

*Journal of Geography in Higher Education Cumulative Index


Class Size, Coursework Assessment and Student Performance in Geography: 1984-94

GRAHAM GIBBS, MARTIN HAIGH & LISA LUCAS, Oxford Brookes University, UK

ABSTRACT
Despite increases in student numbers, a decline in resources and an accompanying increase in class sizes, the overall performance of students in geography in the UK has improved over the past decade. This paradox is explored by examining the relationship between module enrolment and student performance in geography modules at Oxford Brookes University over a period of 10 years alongside changes in the pattern of teaching and assessment. No relationship between module enrolment and performance was found, and there was no decline in average performance as average module enrolment increased. This pattern of performance is attributed to changes in teaching, learning and assessment methods: away from large lecture-based courses to small workshop-based discussion seminars, away from examinations towards continuous assessment, away from passive learning towards active learning, and away from individual and competitive to collective and collaborative learning and teamwork.

KEYWORDS
Student performance, class size, assessment, class contact, quality, resources.

* 1996 Index

*Journal of Geography in Higher Education Cumulative Index


A Hypertext Tutor for Teaching Principles and Techniques of GIS

C. PETER KELLER, University of Victoria, Canada
TREVOR J. DAVIS, University of British Columbia, Canada
ROSALINE R. CANESSA, University of Victoria, Canada

ABSTRACT
This paper describes the design and evaluation of a hypertext-based digital tutor to assist in teaching concepts and techniques of geographic information systems (GIS) and to help students learn how to apply GIS concepts using commercially available software. The paper outlines the teaching environment that led us to conceive the digital tutor, explains the design and prototyping, introduces the tutor's capabilities, and shares insights gained from using this innovative teaching aid and from evaluating students' and instructors' responses over a two-term period.

KEYWORDS
GIS, computer-aided learning, hypertext

* 1996 Index

*Journal of Geography in Higher Education Cumulative Index


Interpreting the Dust Bowl: teaching environmental philosophy through film

JOHN R. GOLD, GEORGE REVILL & MARTIN J. HAIGH, Oxford Brookes University UK

ABSTRACT
This paper describes an experiment in using film in teaching environmental philosophy to geography students which employs a 20-minute clip from the opening scenes of The Grapes of Wrath (directed by John Ford 1940). Use is made of the ambiguity of the film's interpretation of conditions in rural Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s to challenge students to apply and illustrate the contrasting viewpoints supplied by a set of widely divergent environmental philosophies. The initial sections of the paper supply a brief note about using film in geographical higher education before discussing the background to the extract seen by the students. We then provide detailed discussion of the structure and procedures in the classroom exercise followed by comment on the changes that we have made in the light of experience and student evaluations. The conclusion summarises the lessons that we have learned from this exercise and comments on further use of film for teaching environmental philosophy.

KEYWORDS
Film, environmental philosophy, environmental interpretation.

* 1996 Index

*Journal of Geography in Higher Education Cumulative Index


Teaching the History and Philosophy of Geography in British Undergraduate Courses

MARTIN PHILLIPS, University of Leicester, UK
MICK HEALEY, Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education, UK

ABSTRACT
This paper examines the teaching of the history and philosophy of geography in British undergraduate courses. It suggests that this teaching may be undergoing change related to: (1) changes in the nature of the history and philosophy of geography; (2) changes in teaching methods; (3) changes in school education; (4) changes in the organisation of undergraduate education; and (5) student reactions to and learning of the history and philosophy of geography. The paper examines the significance of these factors using the results of a questionnaire survey.

KEYWORDS
History of geography, philosophy of geography, undergraduate degrees, Britain

* 1996 Index

*Journal of Geography in Higher Education Cumulative Index


The Arizona Community Data Set: a long-term project for education and research in economic geography

ALEXANDER VIAS, University of Arizona, USA

ABSTRACT
The teaching of economic geography has received considerable attention in the literature over the last three years. This paper contributes to the debate by illustrating and analyzing a project based at the University of Arizona, the Arizona Community Data Set (ACDS). The ACDS is a long-term field-project that has given students the opportunity to go in the field to collect and analyze regional economic data and to apply theory and techniques learned in the classroom. This unique data set has yielded additional benefits in the area of basic research. It is argued that projects such as the ACDS complement some of the theoretical and analytical curriculum developed and recently published by other instructors in economic geography. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that some of the limitations commonly associated with field projects, especially the cost, can partly be overcome through sponsorship by community agencies.

KEYWORDS
Fieldwork, teaching economic geography, economic base theory

* 1996 Index

*Journal of Geography in Higher Education Cumulative Index


The Geography Discipline Network would also like to thank Taylor & Francis Ltd for permission to reproduce abstracts from the Journal of Geography in Higher Education

GDN Home

Page created 6 May 1997
GDN pages maintained by Phil Gravestock