Journal of Geography in Higher Education - Volume 30 Number 1 2006

Using the ‘Grieving’ Process and Learning Journals to Evaluate Students' Responses to Problem-Based Learning in an Undergraduate Geography Curriculum

ADRIAN CHAPPELL, University of Salford, School of Environment and Life Sciences, UK

ABSTRACT Problem-based learning (PBL) works with a series of problems that form the syllabus for a course or the basis of a curriculum. Learning occurs through the definition of the problem and its attempted resolution. PBL is challenging but offers much potential for geography with its interdisciplinary character. The challenge to geography lecturers is to become facilitators of student learning. This paper outlines an approach to PBL in a single module in the first year of an undergraduate degree programme. The approach involved cycles of learning and employed learning journals as a means of encouraging student reflection. These journals show how students struggled to come to terms with PBL and how it challenged their conceptions of learning. Woods's (1994) ‘grieving process’ is a helpful way of understanding this process. The students did seem to make the transition from ‘teach me’ to ‘help me to learn’ and to appreciate the benefits of PBL.

KEYWORDS Problem-based learning, learning journal, reflection, geography

Using a Community Based Project to Link Teaching and Research: the Bourne Stream Partnership

ANITA SHAH and EMMA TREBY Bournemouth University, School of Conservation Sciences, UK

ABSTRACT This paper demonstrates that integrating research into the curriculum can help to enhance the overall student learning experience. The Bourne Stream Partnership is a local community-based project which has provided environmental & geographical science students with the opportunity to work on live projects within a variety of contexts including work placements, research projects and assignment work. This work has helped to develop a range of student skills (including those in demand by employers) and has at the same time provided useful information for the partnership.

KEYWORDS Community-based, employability, placements, projects, teaching and research

Teaching the Social Construction of Regions in Regional Geography Courses; or, Why Do Vampires Come from Eastern Europe?

Jason Dittmer, Georgia Southern University, Department of Geology and Geography, USA

ABSTRACT This article describes the difficulty of teaching about the construction of regions in regional geography courses, which are themselves built on a metageography that often goes unquestioned. The author advocates the use of popular culture to make this very complex issue palpable for undergraduates. Thus, the construction of Eastern Europe within a larger European framework is clear through a study of Bram Stoker's Dracula and the movies that the book has spawned. Included in this article is an analysis of the geography presented through the Dracula narrative, and the contents of the classroom experience created by the author to teach that analysis. The article concludes with survey data that illustrate the reaction of the students to the lesson as well as evidence that the lesson improved student learning.

KEYWORDS Social construction of regions, Eastern Europe, popular culture

From Hawaii to Glasgow: The International Network for Learning and Teaching Geography in Higher Education (INLT) Five Years On

MICK HEALEY, University of Gloucestershire, Centre for Active Learning in Geography, Environment and Related Disciplines, UK

ABSTRACT This paper examines and reflects on the activities of the International Network for Learning and Teaching Geography in Higher Education (INLT) from its founding at the Association of American Geographers' Annual Conference in Hawaii in 1999 to the post-International Geographical Congress workshop in Glasgow five years later. It provides a context and introduction to the following six papers, which resulted from the Glasgow workshop. It is suggested that, despite some of the proposals in Hawaii proving over-ambitious, several other projects have emerged and the INLT continues largely to meet the goals and purposes set out in 1999. Although the desire of the INLT to move beyond its Anglo-American and Australasian origins largely remains a challenge to be met, the INLT has established itself as a valuable forum for the geography higher education community to identify and reflect on similarities and differences in national practices, to engage in debate virtually and face-to-face on issues concerned with learning and teaching, and to bring geographers from different countries to work together on educational projects.

KEYWORDS International Network for Learning and Teaching Geography in Higher Education, INLT, discipline-based network, scholarship of teaching and learning, community of practice, collaborative projects

Co-learning: Re-linking Research and Teaching in Geography

RICHARD LE HERON, University of Auckland, School of Geography and Environmental Science, New Zealand
RICHARD BAKER, Australian National University, School of Resources, Environment and Society, Australia
LINDSEY MCEWEN, University of Gloucestershire, Department of Natural and Social Sciences, UK

ABSTRACT What might geography in ‘the universities’ look like if geographers seriously confronted the growing dichotomy between research and teaching? This challenge goes to the heart of ‘the university’ as a site of learning. The authors argue that the globalizing character of higher education gives urgency to re-charting the university as an environment that prioritizes co-learning as the basis for organizing educational activities in geography and potentially beyond discipline boundaries. By co-learning is meant systematic approaches to maximizing the synergies between research and teaching activities to capitalize on prior learning and experiences of all involved. The authors' argument is that feedback gained through co-learning will reshape the nature and quality of both research and teaching environments as we know them. Four methodological framings of co-learning, derived from established practice in geography, are presented, to highlight possible directions of development that are especially strategic in the current context of globalizing higher education. It is suggested that with strategies that explicitly maximize co-learning, the development of geography could occur in distinctive ways that would not happen if research and teaching were progressed in isolation.

KEYWORDS Co-learning, linking teaching and research, development of geography

International Perspectives on the Effectiveness of Geography Fieldwork for Learning

IAN FULLER School of People, Environment & Planning, Massey University, New Zealand
SALLY EDMONDSON Liverpool Hope University, Deanery of Sciences and Social Sciences, UK
DEREK FRANCE University of Chester, Department of Geography & Development Studies, UK
DAVID HIGGITT National University of Singapore, Department of Geography, Singapore
ILKKA RATINEN University of Jyväskylä, Department of Teacher Education, Finland

ABSTRACT This paper seeks to address assumptions on the effectiveness of fieldwork as a mode of learning in geography. This is approached from an international perspective, both in review of available evidence, which demonstrates a need for rigorous research into the issue, and in providing preliminary findings of research into the value of fieldwork from universities across three continents. Common themes to emerge concern the effectiveness of fieldwork in terms of learning and understanding of the subject: providing first-hand experience of the real world, whichever part of the world the students are in; skills development (transferable and technical); and social benefits. The extent to which fieldwork develops transferable skills depends on the context in which the fieldwork is undertaken. The paper points to avenues of future research to be investigated to deepen our understanding of the role fieldwork plays in student learning and to address the question, ‘how effective is fieldwork in improving learning?’

KEYWORDS Geography fieldwork, effectiveness, international perspectives, learning

Problem-based Learning in Geography: Towards a Critical Assessment of its Purposes, Benefits and Risks

Eric Pawson, University of Canterbury, Department of Geography, New Zealand
Eric Fournier, Samford University, Department of Geography, USA
Martin Haigh, Oxford Brookes University, Centre for Geography in Higher Education, UK
Osvaldo Muniz, Universidad de La Serena, Facultad de Cs. Sociales y Economicas, Chile
Julie Trafford, University of Auckland, School of Geography and Environmental Science, New Zealand
Susan Vajoczki, McMaster University, School of Geography and Geology, Canada

ABSTRACT This paper makes a critical assessment of problem-based learning (PBL) in geography. It assesses what PBL is, in terms of the range of definitions in use and in light of its origins in specific disciplines such as medicine. It considers experiences of PBL from the standpoint of students, instructors and managers (e.g. deans), and asks how well suited this method of learning is for use in geography curricula, courses and assignments. It identifies some ‘best practices in PBL’, as well as some useful sources for those seeking to adopt PBL in geography. It concludes that PBL is not a teaching and learning method to be adopted lightly, and that if the chances of successful implementation are to be maximized, careful attention to course preparation and scenario design is essential. More needs to be known about the circumstances in which applications of PBL have not worked well and also about the nature of the inputs needed from students, teachers and others to reap its benefits.

KEYWORDS Problem-based learning, geography, curriculum, benefits, risks, best practices

Teaching Geography for Social Transformation

Jane Wellens, University of Leicester, Educational Development and Academic Practice, UK
Andrea Berardi, Open University, Faculty of Technology, UK
Brian Chalkley, University of Plymouth, Higher Education Academy Subject Centre for Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, UK
Bill Chambers Liverpool Hope University College, Deanery of Sciences and Social Sciences, UK
Ruth Healey, University of Sheffield, Department of Geography, UK
Janice Monk, University of Arizona, Department of Women's Studies, USA
Jodi Vender, Pennsylvania State University, Department of Geography, USA

ABSTRACT This paper considers how higher education geography is a discipline that can make a significant contribution to addressing inequality and engaging with the agenda for social change. It adopts the view that the teaching of geography can promote social transformation through the development of knowledge, skills and values in students that encourage social justice and equity. The paper explores how teaching about social transformation is closely interlinked with teaching for social transformation and considers some of the pedagogical approaches that might be used to achieve these. It considers how the lack of diversity of higher education geography teachers impacts on these issues before moving on to consider how the nature of different higher education systems supports or constrains geographers' abilities to teach for social transformation. Finally, the paper ends by asking individuals and geography departments to consider their commitment to teaching for social transformation.

KEYWORDS Teaching for social transformation, inequality, social change, geography curriculum

Variations in International Understandings of Employability for Geography

Paul Rooney, Liverpool Hope University, Deanery of Sciences and Social Sciences, UK
Pauline Kneale, University of Leeds, School of Geography, UK
Barbara Gambini, Università degli Studi di Urbino, Department of Geography, Italy
Artimus Keiffer, Wittenberg University, Department of Geography, Ohio, USA
Barbara Vandrasek, University of Minnesota, Department of Geography, USA
Sharon Gedye, University of Plymouth, School of Geography, UK

ABSTRACT This research started from the premise that (a) employability is an internationally accepted concept with a confusion of interpretations and definitions; and (b) that an insight into the variation in understanding of employability and teaching employability would benefit geography curriculum development. Consequently, the views of the co-authors from Italy, the United Kingdom, United States, Chile, Estonia, Greece and Spain were sought to develop an international understanding of employability and its position in the geography higher education curriculum. Discussion shows that the definitions and implications are varied. There is common agreement that geography graduates are very employable, and that their degree work enhances their employability attributes. The extent to which employability can be enhanced within the curriculum is discussed.

KEYWORDS Employability, geographers, international understanding, curriculum

Internationalizing Professional Development in Geography through Distance Education

Michael Solem, Asssociation of American Geographers, USA
Lex Chalmers, Waikato University, Department of Geography, Tourism and Environmental Planning, New Zealand
David Dibiase, Pennsylvania State University, Department of Geography, USA
Karl Donert, Liverpool Hope University, Education Deanery, UK
Susan Hardwick, University of Oregon, Department of Geography, USA

ABSTRACT This paper assesses the value and relevance of geography education in the realm of professional development. It explores the potential of distance education to support lifelong learners through courses or modules that operate across international boundaries and incorporate materials from local and global contexts. The authors argue that Internet-enabled distance education offers the potential to extend access to many prospective students who are unlikely or unable to participate in full-time residential courses, and that distance education can facilitate international collaboration among educators and educational institutions. A case is made for an internationalized programme of study for continuing adult education, as opposed to the primary, secondary and higher education sectors that are the focus of most existing geographical education programmes. Next, the authors document the ways in which recent commitments to internationalizing teaching and learning in geography have brought us to the point where professional development of lifelong learners is demonstrable, particularly in the fields of geographic information technologies and teacher professional development. They outline some of the main challenges that must be addressed if the potential of distance education as an enabling tool for professional development in geography is to be fulfilled: specifically, collaborative development and delivery of curricula and the articulation of quality assurance standards and certification agreements among participating institutions.

KEYWORDS Professional development, distance education, international collaboration

Life without Fieldwork: Some Lecturers' Perceptions of Geography and Environmental Science Fieldwork

Ian Scott, City University, Health Care Education Development Unit, UK
Ian Fuller, Massey University, School of People, Environment & Planning, New Zealand
Steve Gaskin, University of Exeter, Graduate school, UK

ABSTRACT Internationally, fieldwork is seen as intrinsic to geographical education. Fieldwork is here defined as any study of the environment that takes place outside the classroom. This paper extends a previous study of student perceptions of the impacts on their learning of a cancellation of fieldwork caused by an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the UK countryside (Fuller et al., 2003). This paper examines the same issue from the viewpoint of the students' lecturers, who were interviewed to discover their perceptions of the value of fieldwork as a pedagogic device. Textual analyses of transcripts suggest that the lecturers' main objectives for fieldwork are to put theory into context and to teach students subject-specific skills. The development of transferable skills is a secondary benefit. Fieldwork, while considered a vital teaching and learning tool, is not central to geography and environmental science education, which emphasizes the understanding and contextualization of subject theory, but more needs to be done to integrate fieldwork into pedagogic strategies.

KEYWORDS Fieldwork, lecturer perception, qualitative analysis


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