Journal of Geography in Higher Education

Volume 23 Number 2 1999


Improving Teaching, Learning and Assessment

GRAHAM GIBBS, Open University, Milton Keynes, UK

ABSTRACT
Mechanisms which underlie quality in research have exact parallels which show us how to improve the quality of teaching, learning and assessment. These mechanisms operate in two main ways-within institutions, and across institutions through disciplines. Geography should exploit Funding Council initiatives to build a scholarly community of teachers which matches its community of researchers. This paper suggests a possible focus of attention for attempts to improve assessment through emphasising assessment functions other than those concerned with standards.

KEYWORDS
Teaching, learning, assessment, quality, research, peer review.

* 1999 Index

*Journal of Geography in Higher Education Cumulative Index


Impacts of Increased Student Career Orientation on American College Geography Programmes

YU ZHOU, BRUCE W. SMITH & JOSEPH G. SPINELLI, Bowling Green State University, USA

ABSTRACT
This paper explores the connection between American college students' increased career orientation and the growth of geographic information systems (GIS) and experiential education in the curricula of US geography programmes. In essence, students have been attracted to GIS and experiential education because they believe that those skills and experiences will enhance their marketability. While greater employment opportunities for geography graduates is laudable, the discipline must be careful not to become too narrowly focused on career linkages and neglect the general intellectual development of students.

KEYWORDS
GIS, experiential education, co-operative education, internships, career orientation.

* 1999 Index

*Journal of Geography in Higher Education Cumulative Index


An Evaluation of Teaching Introductory Geomorphology using Computer-based Tools

ELIZABETH A. WENTZ, Arizona State University, Tempe, USA
JOANN C. VENDER & CYNTHIA A. BREWER, The Pennsylvania State University, University Parks, USA

ABSTRACT
This paper compares student reactions to traditional teaching approaches with those that also include computer-based components. The traditional teaching approach involved lectures, assigned readings from a textbook and a variety of hands-on exercises. As a supplement to the traditional approach, students also utilised computer-based tools. One of the computer-based tools was a prepackaged CD-ROM to complement the textbook readings. The second computer tool, used in the laboratory component of the course, was a simplified geographical information system (GIS) interface to create digital descriptions of landforms. The results show that students found both the CD-ROM- and the GIS-based exercises valuable forms of instruction when used in combination with the traditional methods.

KEYWORDS
Geomorphology, computer-based learning, geographical information systems (GIS).

* 1999 Index

*Journal of Geography in Higher Education Cumulative Index


Using the Internet as Part of Directed Learning in Social Geography: developing Web pages as an introduction to local social geography

DAVID T. GRAHAM & JANE McNEIL, Nottingham Trent University, UK

ABSTRACT
This paper describes a prototype-a self-authored project using the Internet as a platform for the dissemination of information relating to aspects of the social geography of Nottingham, UK. It addresses the issues related to the successful integration of specifically tailored, Web-delivered material as an integral part of an existing, traditionally taught geography module. An evaluation of this type of delivery as an enhancement to the undergraduate experience is discussed in terms of open and distance learning. This project has proved to be very successful and welcomed by undergraduates. It has also impressed colleagues who can see how the methodology could be adapted to their own modules the time and effort involved notwithstanding.

KEYWORDS
Internet, Worldwide Web, directed learning, html, social geography.

* 1999 Index

*Journal of Geography in Higher Education Cumulative Index


Student Perceptions of the Development of Personal Transferable Skills

MARTIN J. HAIGH, Oxford Brookes University, UK
MARIANNE P. KILMARTIN, The Open University in the South, Oxford, UK

ABSTRACT
First year students, third year students and, possibly, their teachers agree that students are required to practise more skills than they receive credit for through assessment. First year students think that they are assessed on more skills than they are taught, but third year students believe the reverse. Third year students believe that they have been taught a greater number of skills than first year students and, possibly, more than their teachers think they have been taught. The differences between the third year and first year students include skills that must be developed by experiential learning-such as independent learning and problem solving skills. Amongst several explanations is the possibility that this, in part, is due to the two groups being at different stages in the experiential learning cycle. However, first year students may also not recognise such instruction unless it is overtly flagged. Staff and students agree that the development of skills 'that can be deployed in a wide variety of career-related situations' is an important outcome from a geographical education. Third year students rate skills in teamwork and public presentation as their most important learning outcomes as far as future career prospects are concerned.

KEYWORDS
Transferable skills, skills learning, skills teaching, skills practice, skills assessment, student survey, student-staff perceptions.

* 1999 Index

*Journal of Geography in Higher Education Cumulative Index


Developing Fieldwork in Social and Cultural Geography: illustrations from a residential field class in Los Angeles and Las Vegas

JON MAY, University of Sussex, Falmer, UK

ABSTRACT
A recent critique of the politics of fieldwork has raised questions concerning traditional approaches to fieldwork and the value of field-based learning to a more radical social and cultural geography. At the same time, a review of the literature on undergraduate fieldwork reveals few examples of innovations in fieldwork practice by those teaching in this area of the discipline. Here, it is argued that fieldwork in fact continues to represent one of the most appropriate forms by which student understanding of a number of the key concerns of social and cultural geography may be developed but that this development is best encouraged by working with a new approach to fieldwork emerging not out of the educational literature but the literature on fieldwork in the research process. The argument is illustrated by means of an account of a specialist residential field class for social and cultural geography undergraduates to Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

KEYWORDS
Social geography, cultural geography, fieldwork, Los Angeles, Las Vegas.

* 1999 Index

*Journal of Geography in Higher Education Cumulative Index


Using Personal Research to Teach the Significance of Socially Constructed Categories

JAN PENROSE, University of Edinburgh, UK

ABSTRACT
As the value of social construction perspectives has become increasingly clear, the notion that categories-such as race, gender, sexuality and disability-are constructs rather than 'givens' has become something of a truism. However, in teaching terms, my experience has been that students often pay lip service to the constructedness of categories but then go on to work with them in ways that belie any understanding of the significance of this quality or, indeed, of categories in general. To overcome this discrepancy between awareness and understanding, this paper offers one example of the kind of lecture which can build on personal research experience to demonstrate the ways in which attitudes to categories influence the focus, design and outcomes of research projects. It also advances some suggestions for further developing the lecture material in a post-lecture tutorial session and/or assignment. The category dealt with here is that of 'nation', but the general ideas can also be applied to other social constructs depending on the lecturer's own interests and experiences.

KEYWORDS
Social construction, research practice, teaching difficult concepts.

* 1999 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

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