Journal of Geography in Higher Education

Volume 23 Number 3 1999


A Group-learning Approach to Academic and Transferable Skills Through an Exercise in the Global Positioning System

GILES H. BROWN, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, UK

ABSTRACT
An undergraduate tutorial project, based on the utility and application of the global positioning system (GPS) to geographical problems, offers the potential to develop a wide range of academic and transferable skills. A broad understanding of the accuracy, precision and limitations of GPS to geographical issues is provided. This knowledge is developed though a small-group exercise, encompassing skills such as teamwork, project formulation and design, local fieldwork and literature searches. Additionally, the exercise may act as a valuable precursor to a more successful undergraduate research project, since the constraints imposed by such a venture, from conception to conclusion, have been experienced, and the need for flexibility identified.

KEYWORDS
Tutorial groupwork, GPS, fieldwork, transferable skills, undergraduate dissertation.

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A Generic Framework for Criterion-referenced Assessment of Undergraduate Essays

D.T. NEIL, D.A. WADLEY & S.R. PHINN, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

ABSTRACT
This paper presents a brief review of the relative merits of norm-referenced and criterion-referenced assessment of undergraduate students' written work. Acknowledging that there are both positive and negative aspects of criterion referencing, a generic framework for such assessment of undergraduate essays is presented. It comprises criteria and standards (organised by 'dimensions of achievement', i.e. content, process, affect and skills), proficiency standards for English language and communication competence, and cartographic and graphic skills. Problems of implementation include the size and complexity of the framework and the need to interpret and clarify the criteria and standards for students.

KEYWORDS
Assessment strategies, criterion-referenced assessment, writing skills, cartographic skills, undergraduate essays, norm-referenced assessment.

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In Their Own Voices: integrating foreign-language texts in regional geography courses

ELLEN K. CROMLEY & BORYS BILOKUR, University of Connecticut, Storrs, USA

ABSTRACT
This paper reports on the potential for introducing alternative perspectives in undergraduate geography courses that focus on world regions by having students read and discuss simple texts illustrating geographic themes that have been drawn from primary sources published in a language used in the region. Possibilities for incorporating foreign-language instruction into the regional geography course are discussed through specific examples of syllabus design, text selection, class activities and evaluations for Geography 253 (Russia and Eastern Europe) taught during the Fall Semester, 1995 and 1997, at the University of Connecticut.

KEYWORDS
Regional geography, active learning, language instruction, texts.

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The TALESSI Project: promoting active learning for interdisciplinarity, values awareness and critical thinking in environmental higher education

PETER C. JONES & J. QUENTIN MERRITT, University of Greenwich, London, UK

ABSTRACT
This paper introduces the TALESSI (Teaching and Learning at the Environment-Science-Society Interface) project. It also serves as a point of departure for the remaining contributions in this Symposium, all of which have developed out of papers that were originally presented at a TALESSI conference in April 1998. We principally seek to explain why and how the TALESSI project promotes active learning for interdisciplinarity, values awareness and critical thinking in environmental higher education (including environmental studies, environmental science and geography). We also introduce the Higher Education Funding Council for England's (HEFCE) Fund for the Development of Teaching and Learning (FDTL), which provides the greater part of TALESSI's financial support, as well as the wider strategic framework within which the project operates. This in turn provides a context for TALESSI's own objectives, which (in summary) are to develop, pilot, evaluate and disseminate teaching and learning resources that promote active learning for interdisciplinarity, values awareness and critical thinking; and to facilitate debate and the sharing of good practice in these aspects of environmental higher education.

KEYWORDS
Interdisciplinarity, values awareness, critical thinking, active learning, environmental higher education, TALESSI project, Fund for the Development of Teaching and Learning.

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*Journal of Geography in Higher Education Cumulative Index


Critical Thinking and Interdisciplinarity in Environmental Higher Education: the case for epistemological and values awareness

PETER C. JONES & J. QUENTIN MERRITT, University of Greenwich, London, UK
CLARE PALMER, University of Stirling, UK

ABSTRACT
A key learning outcome of most, if not all, higher education is that students should be able to think critically about the subjects they have studied. This applies as much to broad-based undergraduate programmes in environmental higher education as elsewhere. In environmental higher education, this means that students should be able to think critically both within and across the various disciplines that constitute their study programme. An implication of this is that students need to have an awareness of the epistemological and value-based commitments that are present - though frequently unacknowledged - in all 'knowledge claims'; and, in particular, that they should be sensitive to the ways in which these commitments often vary within and between different disciplines. Put another way, it is our view that awareness of epistemological and value-related questions is a prerequisite for critical thinking in environmental higher education. Moreover, in so far as critical thinking across disciplines enables students to integrate knowledges produced within different disciplines, these two kinds of awareness are also prerequisites for interdisciplinarity.

KEYWORDS
Critical thinking, environmental higher education, interdisciplinarity, values awareness.

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What Price Interdisciplinarity?: crossing the curriculum in environmental higher education

JONN FOSTER, Lancaster University, UK

ABSTRACT
The received understanding of interdisciplinarity in environmental higher education depends on constructions of the environmental agenda which tacitly privilege positivistic assumptions associated with the physical and biological sciences. If; however, we take seriously the heuristic force of the key humanities disciplines in regard to our environmental situation, precisely this privileging will be at issue. This suggests that collaboration across the full range of intellectual disciplines is needed not just to solve but to frame environmental problems. This requirement, however, may have to be met at the institutional level rather than at that of individual teachers and learners.

KEYWORDS
Education, environment, heuristic, interdisciplinarity, positivistic, university.

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Integrating Interdisciplinary Perspectives into Traditional Environmental Law Courses

RUBY HAMMER, Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent, UK

ABSTRACT
In relation to the environment, law is one aspect of an interdisciplinary sphere necessitating philosophical, political, scientific and economic considerations. The integration of interdisciplinary perspectives and critical analysis presents a formidable challenge for the lecturer. Environmental issues encompass two aspects that must be appropriately addressed in the context of teaching and learning. First, they are interdisciplinary in nature, and second, they involve questions of 'value'. This article seeks to consider a range of practical strategies to integrate a wider range of interdisciplinary perspectives into traditional environmental law courses, referring to a case study involving an environmental law module developed at Staffordshire University. The article seeks to demonstrate that it is possible to develop an interdisciplinary environmental law course that is accessible to a wide range of disciplines.

KEYWORDS
Environmental law, interdisciplinarity, teaching and learning, critical reasoning, environmental values, case study.

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Barriers to Interdisciplinarity: disciplinary discourses and student learning

JOHN BRADBEER, University of Portsmouth, UK

ABSTRACT
Interdisciplinary study is hard to achieve and to sustain. Students are faced with major challenges in working in and across several disciplines. These difficulties reflect both contrasting disciplinary cognitive structures and the distinctive cultures that have emerged in different disciplines. This paper draws on the work of Kolb and others to clarify some of these problems and to suggest ways of helping students to become more self-aware as learners and more capable of effecting these moves between disciplines.

KEYWORDS
Interdisciplinarity, cognitive structures, student learning, cultures of disciplinary teaching.

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Departmental Strategies for Balancing the Demands of Teaching and Research

Editorial note: This set of papers is intended to spark discussion about the issues arising from balancing the demands of teaching and research. The set provides examples from three UK geography departments, each with different strategies for learning and teaching and for research. They are not presented as models, but are intended to illustrate the range of departmental strategies. It is hoped that the papers will stimulate discussion and comment both from other departments in the UK and from institutions elsewhere, and that some of that discussion can be included in Arena in the future.

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Teaching and Research in Geography: an introduction

ROBIN A. BUTLIN, University of Leeds, UK

ABSTRACT
The symposium reported in these papers reviewed the complementary and conflicting roles of teaching and research. A pluralistic view of the combinations of teaching and research should be favoured and financially rewarded, given the wide range of sizes, histories and missions of departments of geography in the UK. Issues needing further debate and understanding include: the degree of correlation between teaching and research and the role and value of pedagogic research.

KEYWORDS
Teaching and research in geography, pluralistic missions, time-scales, definitions.

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Reconciling the Competing Demands of Teaching and Research: reflecting on the Durham experience

RAY HUDSON, University of Durham, UK

ABSTRACT
Research and teaching can be seen either as competitive or as complementary. The geography department at Durham can be thought of as 'a research led department that teaches'. Nevertheless, it is a department that remains strongly committed to excellence in teaching as well as research and achieved the highest ratings for both teaching and research quality in the most recent national assessments. Some of the ways in which teaching and research have been made compatible and synergies created between them are discussed in the article.

KEYWORDS
Effective time management, excellence, long-term thinking, research culture, synergies.

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Using TQA and the RAE as Management Tools

GUY M. ROBINSON, Kingston University, UK

ABSTRACT
The impacts of Teaching Quality Assessment and the Research Assessment Exercises are considered for the School of Geography, Kingston University, in terms of their role in shaping management strategies for the development of greater synergy between research and teaching.

KEYWORDS
Kingston, TQA, RAE, departmental management.

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Teaching, Learning and Research in Geography at Liverpool Hope

JANET SPEAKE, Liverpool Hope University College, UK

ABSTRACT
The geography and environmental studies programmes at Liverpool Hope were awarded an excellent in the 1995 Higher Education Funding Council's Teaching Quality Assessment but staff did not enter the Research Assessment Exercise for 1996. Subsequently the subject has been developing an agenda for research and scholarship which encompasses subject content and pedagogy. Tutors are encouraged to be reflective practitioners in their research and teaching and to disseminate good practice in both.

KEYWORDS
GNU (Geography for the New Undergraduate), research, teaching and learning, reflective practitioner.

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Toward Mentoring as Feminist Praxis: strategies for ourselves and others

PAMELA MOSS, University of Victoria, Canada
KAREN J. DEBRES, Kansas State University, Manhattan, USA
ALTHA CRAVEY, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA
JENNIFER HYNDMAN, Arizona State University, Phoenix, USA
KATHERINE K. HIRSCHBOECK, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA
MICHELE MASUCCI, Temple University, Philadelphia, USA

ABSTRACT
In this paper, we outline some strategies that we have found useful in our everyday practices as faculty members at a variety of universities in Canada and the USA. We first set a framework for being a mentor while engaging feminist praxis. We then discuss strategies that would be useful in choosing a mentor as well as being a mentor; for mentoring undergraduate students as well as graduate students. We conclude by suggesting that working toward self-mentoring is a goal.

KEYWORDS
Mentoring, self-mentoring, students, faculty, feminism.

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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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