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Volume 11, Number 1

Developing pupils’ ‘personal geographies’ – Is the personalization of geography education beneficial? 
Graham Butt Volume 11 (2009), Number 1, Pages 5-24

From September 2008, the Geography National Curriculum taught in English state schools has made explicit reference to pupils’ ‘personal geographies’. This article explores what is meant by this term, the extent to which teachers at Key Stage 3 (11-13 year old pupils) already engage with this concept, and the caveats geography teachers may need to apply when exploring pupils’ personal geographies.

A questionnaire survey, followed by semi-structured interviews with geography teachers (N=21) from secondary schools in the English West Midlands, reveals the extent to which teachers consider ‘personal geographies’ to be important in their teaching and pupils’ learning. Findings suggest that although teachers are very positive towards pupils exploring their ‘personal geographies’ they are also aware that in so doing professional and ethical questions may be raised.

Key words: Geography education, personal geographies, school geography, personalization

Underrepresented Populations’ Understanding and Awareness of Careers in Geography
Ellen J. Foster Volume 11 (2009), Number 1, Pages 25-37

In the past two decades, there have been projects aimed at attracting minority students to careers in geography.  The paper reports on one such geography-based minority recruiting model summer program for high school students.  Part of the program curriculum included sessions aimed at expanding student knowledge and understanding about geography as a career path.  In addition, the original research investigated the postsecondary goals and retention of geographic knowledge of the participants (Foster, 2006).  Over a ten-month period, students consistently identified a broader variety of career pathways open to geographers than they did before the summer program.  Thus, the research confirmed an increased understanding of applied geography that did not end at the conclusion of intensive training, but continued to reach into following years.  

Key words:  Geographic education, underrepresented populations, socio-cultural learning, mixed methodology, career pathways

The Changing Nature of High School World Geography Textbooks: 1950-2005
Alex Standish, Volume 11 (2009), Number 1, Pages 38-57

This study seeks to document and explain the key changes to the form and content of high school world geography textbooks from 1950 to 2005. Eighteen textbooks, three per decade, were selected and analyzed for manifest and latent content. Four key changes over the study period were identified: greater international orientation, a broader presentation of geography, standardization of approach and content; and content being driven by factors external to geography and the author. The resulting textbooks are larger and better illustrated. They cover the world in greater detail, but are weak in narratives that reflect different points of view and contradictory aims.

Key words: World geography, textbooks, politicization, content analysis

Recognizing Geographic and Spatial Learning in Children’s Drawings
Reese H. Todd, Volume 11 (2009), Number 1, Pages 58-75

Geography education is more than reciting place names and locations, but practicing elementary teachers have limited experiences in extending geography learning and spatial knowledge beyond these boundaries. Demonstration lessons that involved university faculty, certification students, and classroom teachers used aerial imagery to teach second grade students geography concepts. Teachers observed that young learners gained understanding of distance, direction, location, and scale; however, when they analyzed student drawings, teachers lacked skills in recognizing the geographic and spatial knowledge represented in student work. This article introduces an evaluation tool to assist classroom teachers in interpreting visual responses in terms of a) perspective, b) symmetry, c) geometric shapes and patterns, and d) direction and location. This tool, coupled with a teaching demonstration model, supports teachers in identifying student spatial knowledge and using that data in planning content-rich instruction in elementary social studies classes beyond place names and locations.

Key words: Spatial learning, aerial imagery, rural schools