Journal of Geography in Higher Education - Volume 27 Number 2 2003

Reflecting on Reflective Learning: the case of geography, earth and environmental sciences


ABSTRACT This paper examines how reflective learning can be promoted and developed explicitly within the disciplines of geography, earth and environmental sciences. A review of various theoretical perspectives on reflection is provided, as well as a brief summary of the ways of incorporating reflection in the curriculum. The substantive part of this paper is based on a UK Learning and Teaching Support Network (LTSN) Subject Centre for Geography, Earth and Environmental Science (GEES) funded research project on reflective learning which was completed in 2001. A questionnaire survey was sent to GEES departments/schools to obtain information about the incorporation of reflective learning in the curriculum. From the analysis of the questionnaire returns, the project team identified four themes regarding the relevance of reflective learning to GEES disciplines. Project findings demonstrate how the inclusion of reflective learning exercises and activities is at an embryonic stage in many UK GEES departments/schools. The paper concludes by highlighting certain challenges that geographers, earth and environmental scientists could address if they wish to seek to develop reflective learning and enhance the student learning experience.

KEYWORDS Reflection, Kolb, skill development, assessment, reflective practice, metacognition.

The Effectiveness of Internet-based Instruction: an experiment in physical geography

CATHERINE JAIN, Palomar College, USA
ARTHUR GETIS, San Diego State University, USA

ABSTRACT Geographers increasingly use the Internet as an instructional tool in higher education. The effect of Internet-based instruction on learning, however, is essentially unknown. This research involves a matched-pairs experiment that assesses the differences in student performance between a group of students taking an Internet-based lesson in introductory physical geography, and another group learning the same material via traditional classroom methods. Both groups were subject to the same knowledge assessment post-test, and scores were statistically analysed to determine whether one instructional method led to better student performance over the other. Results show that the Internet can be a viable alternative instructional tool compared with traditional classroom methods.

KEYWORDS Internet-based instruction, matched pairs, physical geography.

Teaching Graduate Students to Write: a seminar for thesis and dissertation writers

DYDIA DELYSER, Louisiana State University, USA

ABSTRACT Many graduate students face thesis or dissertation writing under-prepared. To help some of them with the task, the author developed a seminar called Social-Science Writing. This article describes that seminar: its organisation, themes, in-class and take-home writing assignments, readings, and student writing workshop. The author also reviews some of the books available to help even novice writers both with their own writing, and to develop the confidence to teach (or request) such a course themselves.

KEYWORDS Teaching writing, dissertation writing.

Engaging Students in the Learning Process: the learning journal

CHRIS PARK, Lancaster University, UK

ABSTRACT This paper explores the usefulness of the learning journal as a means of actively engaging students in the learning process, based on a case study of a third-year undergraduate geography course. After briefly reviewing the literature on journal writing in different contexts, the paper outlines the approach adopted in the new geography course, in which students were given guidelines on how to write a journal that would be assessed as part of the course. Extracts from students' journals for this course are used to illustrate how they approached the task, and how they viewed the experience. It is concluded that the learning journal has good potential to increase student interest in and engagement with course material, to encourage and empower students to take more responsibility for their own learning, to be more reflective in their study, and to allow them to have a voice and provide valuable feedback to the teacher.

KEYWORDS Learning journal, active learning, reflection, writing skills.

Bridging the Gulf between Secondary School and University-level Geography Teachers: reflections on organising a UK teachers' conference

CRAIG JEFFREY, University of Edinburgh, UK

ABSTRACT This study contributes to growing research on the links between school and university geography by reflecting on the value of a teachers' conference organised in 2000. Through analysis of feedback from the conference and reflection on how the event has influenced the author's teaching, the paper considers the potential for academic geographers to learn from colleagues in the school sector and vice versa. The paper also uses personal experience and the teachers' feedback to provide guidance for people considering holding similar events, particularly with regard to the likely expectations and priorities of secondary school teachers. The paper notes schoolteachers' desire for a closer relationship with university staff and argues that current pressures on all teachers limit possibilities for broader and more sustained dialogue.

KEYWORDS School-university education links, teachers' conference, in-service training, Scotland.

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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