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Volume 12, Number 2

Ethically-Engaged Fieldwork in Geography Education: An Analysis of Student Experiences in Two Field Courses
Andrei Israel Volume 12 (2010), Number 2, Pages 5-15

Approaches for Increasing and Improving Pre-service Teacher Competence, Confidence, and Effectiveness in the Teaching and Learning of Geography
David J. Rutherford Volume 12 (2010), Number 2, Pages 16-33

The lack of efforts to increase and improve pre-service teacher education efforts in geography was identified in 1994 as a serious limitation on endeavors to improve geography education in the schools of the United States (Boehm, Brierly, & Sharma, 1994), and this problem was echoed as recently as 2005 (Bednarz, Bockenhauer, & Walk, 2005). To help rectify this persistent problem, the purpose of this paper is to identify and evaluate approaches for increasing and improving pre-service teacher competence, confidence, and effectiveness in the teaching and learning of geography. Research methods include (1) an exploratory survey of nationwide efforts to improve pre-service teacher education in geography, and (2) an evaluation of a pre-service teacher workshop model for enhancing such education. Results indicate that: (1) the most commonly employed approaches to pre-service teacher outreach entail making short presentations in the methods courses at colleges of education and inviting/incentivizing pre-service teachers to attend Alliance professional development events; (2) although workshop programs dedicated to pre-service teachers are not commonly conducted and confront particular obstacles, they possess demonstrated effectiveness; (3) these and other approaches can have positive impacts on pre-service teachers and university faculty; and (4) the summary effect of all these efforts has been to reach only a small and geographically variable percentage of pre-service teachers and programs. The paper concludes with suggestions for future research and ways to improve outreach efforts.

Keywords: Pre-service, pre-service, teacher education, geography, teacher certification

Supporting Geography Education:  Effects of a Summer Academy on Secondary Geography Teachers
Ellen J. Foster Volume 12 (2010), Number 2, Pages 34-44

As part of a geography-based summer academy program, teachers served as mentors for teams of high school students interested in postsecondary education and geography. One component of the program evaluation includes the analysis of teacher understanding of geography and an investigation of the effects of professional development on the participating teachers.  The program evaluation examined the effects of participation on teachers’ understanding of geography.  In addition to asking teachers to define geography, the pre- and post-program surveys included Likert-based questions aimed at assessing self-efficacy in geography.  Changes were analyzed using two-tailed t-tests.  In addition, teachers were asked about their involvement in professional development programs.  Qualitative data analysis followed a grounded-theory model.

The research hypothesis proposed a positive correlation between teacher participation in continuing professional development and understanding of geography.  However, correlations were not statistically significant. Instead, the research revealed a reasonable, but not statistically significant, level of professional engagement in teacher participants that appears to support continuing education in geography and geographic education.  As a result, State alliances may consider requiring participants to conduct professional development sessions after program participation similar to the reported project, which include presentations that will recruit future teacher participants and students to academic geography.

Keywords: Professional development, secondary education, geographic education

A Quantitative Analysis of the Differing Perceptions of Geography by Visually and Non-Visually Impaired Students
Christopher D. Murr Volume 12 (2010), Number 2, Pages 45-60

Visually impaired students encounter numerous challenges to learning and using geography due to its highly spatial nature. While research is being conducted in areas such as technology to improve access, not much is known as to the degree to which visually impaired and non-visually impaired populations differently perceive their ability to engage successfully in geography course and major work. Such an understanding is essential to identifying and overcoming barriers to the effective conveyance of geographic knowledge to this special needs population. This study using the Mann-Whitney test demonstrates that there is a statistically significant difference between sight and non-sight impaired students’ (matriculated at North American colleges and universities) perceived abilities to be successful in the study of geography relative to other visual and non-visual disciplines. The data support a lack of perceived success and thus, likely engagement among the visually impaired in collegiate geography. Such a scenario poses a challenge to the discipline in terms of ensuring diverse thought and solutions regarding the world’s geo-spatial problems.

Key Words: Geography, learning, visually impaired, geography education