Journal of Geography in Higher Education - Volume 29 Number 2 2005

Linking Research and Teaching to Benefit Student Learning

Mick Healey, School of Environment, University of Gloucestershire, UK

ABSTRACT Abstract Linking research and teaching is a topic of international interest. The links may take many different forms and may be found in all types of higher education institution. The main aim of the paper is to explore the complexity and contested nature of the research-teaching nexus in different national and institutional contexts, with particular reference to geography. It is argued that the relationship depends on how the terms ‘research’ and ‘teaching and learning’ are conceptualized. It is suggested that undergraduate students are likely to gain most benefit from research in terms of depth of learning and understanding when they are involved actively, particularly through various forms of inquiry-based learning. The development of such research-based curricula provides challenges to staff across the sector, not least because they may lead to finding new ways for staff and students to work together.

KEYWORDS Linking research and teaching, research-teaching nexus, concepts of research, concepts of teaching and learning, active learning, research-based learning, inquiry-based learning, geography curriculum design.

Implementing a Problem-Based Learning Approach for Teaching Research Methods in Geography

RACHEL SPRONKEN-SMITH, Higher Education Development Centre, University of Otago, New Zealand

ABSTRACT This paper first describes problem-based learning; second describes how a research methods course in geography is taught using a problem-based learning approach; and finally relates student and staff experiences of this approach. The course is run through regular group meetings, two residential field trips and optional skills-based workshops. Course evaluations improved markedly following the introduction of this approach and students appreciated the benefits of the problem-based learning approach, particularly through working in groups on authentic problems that were relevant to future workplace scenarios. They were also able to further develop a range of transferable skills, particularly in teamwork. However, they may not have increased other transferable skills (such as in oral communication) as much as desired due to the tendency for groups to draw on individual strengths to complete collaborative group tasks. Other concerns were group size, the high workload and coping with group dynamics. Tutors found the teaching to be enjoyable, relaxing and very rewarding but there were some anxieties due to the unpredictable nature of the course as well as frustration at knowing when to intervene. However, despite these difficulties for both students and staff, the authors are sufficiently encouraged by the response to continue teaching using a problem-based learning approach.

KEYWORDS Problem-based learning, geography, research methods, group work

Using a Web-based Resource to Prepare Students for Fieldwork: Evaluating the Dark Peak Virtual Tour

JULIA McMORROW, School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester, UK

ABSTRACT This paper reports on development of a Dark Peak website and its use to prepare first-year geography students for a one-day physical geography field course in the south Pennines. The Virtual Tour (VT) component of the website is the main focus of this paper. Pre- and post-fieldwork evaluations of the first version of the VT by 195 students are presented with the revisions undertaken as a result of this feedback. Recommendations for the design and implementation of virtual fieldwork websites are made. The current version is available at

KEYWORDS Virtual fieldwork, web-based resources, fieldwork preparation, WWW, Internet, Pennines, WebCT

Going Global? Long-Haul Fieldwork in Undergraduate Geography

Mark Mcguinness and David Simm, Department of Geography, Bath Spa University College, UK

ABSTRACT Fieldwork continues to underpin undergraduate geography in the UK and elsewhere. In recent years fieldwork destinations in UK geography programmes have grown more global in scope. This paper examines the pressures and processes that underpin the increased reach of fieldwork in undergraduate geography. Based on a recently implemented research practice module that includes long-haul fieldwork, the academic value of such fieldwork and its positioning in subject benchmarking statements are discussed, and the implications of long-haul fieldwork, in particular for effective module design and assessment forms, are further considered. The authors suggest that reflective research diaries are a particularly useful assessment form for students to fully engage and consider the political and ethical dimensions of long-haul fieldwork.

KEYWORDS Fieldwork, benchmark skills, reflection, research diaries.

Teaching Research Through Field Studies: A Cumulative Opportunity for Teaching Methodology to Human Geography Undergraduates

Ruth Panelli and Richard V. Welch, Department of Geography, University of Otago, New Zealand

ABSTRACT Notwithstanding its iconic status within geography, the debate continues about how fieldwork should be taught to undergraduate students. The authors engage with this debate and argue that field studies should follow the teaching of research methodology. In this paper they review relevant literature on the place of fieldwork in geography training, the importance of problem solving and the challenges of group learning. Drawing on these themes they outline the 300-level human geography fieldwork course taught at Otago University (NZ) and review student responses to this curriculum. They record observations on both the field studies course and the linkages between it and the preceding research methodology training students receive. They show that while the wish for more ‘real’ or ‘hands on’ field practice is widely expressed by their students, so is satisfaction with the group learning approach adopted in the 300-level course and with the range of personal skills covered in the research methodology and field studies training received.

KEYWORDS Fieldwork, group work, methodology, research, undergraduate

Advanced Research Training in Human Geography: the Scottish Experience

Fungisai Gwanzura-Ottemoeller,School of Geosciences, University of St Andrews, UK
Peter Hopkins, Department of Geography, University of Lancaster, UK
Hayden Lorimer, Department of Geography and Geomatics, University of Glasgow, UK
Lorna J. Philip, Department of Geography and Environment, University of Aberdeen, UK

ABSTRACT Formal research training is integral to research degrees in human geography completed in UK higher education institutions today. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has been the driving force behind the formalization of research training. Arguably less well known among the ESRC research training recommendations is the stipulation that postgraduate research students complete advanced research training. This paper will draw upon the authors' experiences of the collaborative ESRC/Royal Scottish Geographical Society Advanced Research Training for Scottish Postgraduate Human Geographers. A detailed account of the advanced research training provision will be given, followed by staff and student reflections on the training. The paper concludes by considering what advanced research training offers to the PhD process and future developments in advanced research training.

KEYWORDS Research students, advanced research training, staff perspectives, student perspectives

The Problems of Utilizing ‘Direct Experience’ in Geography Education

KAREN NAIRN, University of Otago, New Zealand

ABSTRACT Many fieldtrips are designed so that students might have direct experience of ‘the landscape’ and/or ‘the people’. But as Scott (1992) warns, experience of ‘the real world’ is never transparent and unmediated. It is with this central idea in mind that the author (re)examines the epistemology of two human geography fieldtrips that concerned recent migrants to New Zealand in order to show how they trade on a logocentric essentializing epistemology. Scott's (1992) critique of experience forms the central theoretical framework of the article. The author draws on this framework to review the geographic education literature concerning the role of experience; to describe the pedagogical intentions of the lecturers running the two human geography fieldtrips; to analyse data from interviews with students conducted some months after the fieldtrips had taken place; and to claim that a logocentric essentializing epistemology is evident in the design and effects of the fieldtrips and that this is flawed theoretically, practically and ethically.

KEYWORDS Field trips, pedagogy, experience, essentialism, racism

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