Geography and General Education: The Nexus of Roles in Post-Secondary Education
Robert A. Harper
Volume 14 (2012), Number 1 & 2, Pages 5-9
How Study Abroad Programs Impact Students’ Futures: A Western Michigan University Case Study
Ashley A. King & Lucius F. Hallett, IV
Volume 14 (2012), Number 1 & 2, Pages 10-41
This study assesses study abroad programs at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to examine the lasting effects on students’ careers, as well as, their personal and social development. Given the consistent increase in students studying abroad, it is important to know how and in what ways these experiences are affecting futures. Through a study of survey data collected from past participants in study abroad programs over eight years at Western Michigan University, we analyze whether significant effects developed for students regarding: language fluency and use, academic achievement, cultural development, personal growth, and professional attainment, as well as, how their study abroad experience impacted their lives following graduation. The findings, through gauging the quality of students’ experiences, will assist administrators and coordinators in study abroad programs in higher education towards designing future programs and assessing the potential for success of that design and the long-term impact on participants.
Keywords: Study abroad programs, student international travel, career impacts, program design
The Course Syllabus as a Guide to Map Interpretation Instruction
Jerry Green, Mary Henry, Liza Skryzhevska & Stanley Toops
Volume 14 (2012), Number 1 & 2, Pages 42-54
Map interpretation skill development in geography is faced with declining opportunities; however, most introductory textbooks have the content to support developing these skills. This paper investigates the extent to which map interpretation is found in introductory geography courses by reviewing 77 syllabi from Internet sources and direct inquiry, and 20 responses, which resulted in an additional 30 syllabi, from a nationwide online survey sent to geography instructors who taught at 4-year universities. Map interpretation was most frequently found in physical geography syllabi followed by human geography, regional geography, and general geography. Our findings indicate that map interpretation skill development is not widely incorporated in introductory courses, however, the syllabi did not always adequately portray the course content and, thus, it would be more useful for assessing the general level of map interpretation skills in geography if syllabi were more informative to the broader community.
Keywords: Map interpretation, map skills, course syllabus, introductory geography courses
The “Greening” of Campuses in Higher Education and K-12 Schools: The Value of Experiential Learning for Sustainability
Denise Blanchard & Brian Cmiel
Volume 14 (2012), Number 1 & 2, Pages 55-76
Institutions of higher education have been involved in campus sustainability programs and activities since the 1970s; however, increasingly, schools in K-12 education have become involved in aspects of the green movement, such as energy efficiency and high performance building design, to facilitate sustainability on their campuses, as well. This interest at the elementary and secondary levels of education is mainly promoted by two relatively recent comprehensive programs: the United States Department of Education’s Green Schools Initiative (GSI), and the nationwide, online Green Ribbon Schools (GRS) program (USDOE, 2012). The goals of this research were twofold: 1) to assess how students and administrators at campuses in higher education engaged in sustainable programs and practices; and, 2) to observe the creative activities of teachers and students in K-12 education toward campus sustainability. To achieve our first goal, we created a list of 10 criteria that defined a sustainable campus and applied them to a sample of 23 universities having approximately equal enrollment. Two-thirds engaged in half or more of our ten criteria. The two most frequent were: evidence of student organizations dedicated toward environmental causes; and, whether the universities included sustainable policies in their Master Plans. Alternative energy programs and a commitment to reduce emissions on campus were also important. The second goal of observing campus sustainability for K-12 schools called for examining the website of the GRS program, the original award and recognition program for K-12 schools. Of 730 registered schools, 68, or about 10% were green ribbon award winners in 2011, the majority emanating from Texas, with California schools, second. Though the GRS program is comprised of four cornerstones, we only observed the “EcoCampus” cornerstone to remain consistent with the aims of the research. The majority of projects focused on “recycling/waste,” and “energy.” A case study of an elementary school that developed curriculum using the “building as a teaching tool” is presented and illustrates how this school incorporated STEM concepts and lifelong learning. Overall, this research concluded that no matter the scale, size, enrollment of an institution of education, nor level of education, that a growing number of educators, students, and administrators are participating in sustainability activities on campus to achieve short-term efficiencies and savings, as well as, long-term benefits toward educating the next generation of environmentally-aware, and conservation-minded citizens.
Keywords: Campus sustainability-higher education; campus sustainability-K-12 schools, green campuses, Green Ribbon Schools program, Green School Initiative, green school resources, school conservation programs
Hopwood, N. (2012). Geography in Secondary Schools: Researching pupils’ classroom experiences. New York: Continuum. ISBN-13: 978-1441199089. 202 pages
de Blij, H. (2012). Why geography matters: More than ever (2nd ed.). New York: OXford University Press. ISBN-13: 9780199913749. 354 pages.