Volume 21 Number 2
Papers from the National Center for Research in Geography Education's Research Coordination Network - Year 3
Interactive Mapping for Transparent Redistricting
Rebecca Theobald, Anita Palmer & Saskia van de Gevel
GeoCivics contributes to the civic education of students and community members by making available knowledge and skills about civil society and government systems. Taking an early active role in the governing process suggests that students will be more likely to continue their participation in community discussions, which is key to a successful democratic republic (Joris and Agirdag, 2019). In support of NCRGE’s Transformative Research Grant, a research group created interdisciplinary approaches to engage the public in redistricting through hands-on and online mapping tools. This project, piloted in over ten states, determined that while students and teachers have access to a variety of instructional materials about U.S. Congressional apportionment and redistricting (CivXNow Coalition, 2019), using interactive giant maps, examining 2010 census data and redistricting criteria, and drawing online congressional district maps using county boundaries successfully connects participants to the situation in their states. “Seeing the problem as something unsatisfactory is meant to affect and challenge learners, motivating them to see solutions” (Weiss, 2017, 207). GeoCivics addresses the third research question in the Road Map (2013, 44), “What supports or promotes the development of geographic knowledge, skills, and practices?” Funding from the National Center for Research in Geographic Education (NCRGE) supported research group meetings, funded stipends for a research fellow and an online geospatial technology educational expert, provided travel resources to test the materials in multiple locations, and identified effective ways to distribute this instructional sequence to improve understanding of the role geography plays in the U.S. election process. Lesson plans, discussion guides, and assessments are hosted on the University of Colorado Colorado Springs website. In collaboration with political geographers, sessions about redistricting were organized for the American Association of Geographers (AAG) meeting in Washington DC in April of 2019. Following analysis of content delivery and resource use, the research group engaged with the geography and civics education communities to promote development of geographic techniques by making these materials available to educators and community members, both in the United States and across the globe, in anticipation of the 2020 Census and subsequent redistricting processes.
Computational Thinking in U.S. College Geography: An Initial Education Research Agenda
Coline C. Dony, Atsushi Nara, Giuseppe Amatulli, Eric M. Delmelle, Laura Tateosian, Sergio Rey & Diana S. Sinton
The authors summarize the outcomes of efforts to initiate a research coordination network to build capacity for computational thinking in geography education. There is a growing demand for graduates with skills in both spatial and computational (or geocomputational) thinking, but such skill sets are difficult to find. The growth of spatial data science programs are a good indicator for the significance of this growing demand. The Encoding Geography Research Coordination Network (EG-RCN) met virtually to engage in guided discussions around challenges of teaching and learning computational thinking at the college level. The main outcome of this network is the identification of an initial education research agenda to measure and address such challenges. This EG-RCN are one of the efforts under the broader Encoding Geography Initiative, which was launched by the American Association of Geographers (AAG) in 2018.
Advancing a Framework to Describe School Geography Curricula Around the World
Chew-Hung Chang, Gillian Kidman, Andy Wi, Shyan Anand Singh & Jerry Mitchell
Geographical education is practiced differently around the world, as there are many factors (e.g., geographical location) and contexts (e.g., political, cultural) that countries may face in terms of planning and developing their geography curriculum. Invariably, each country has a different curriculum for school geography. The International Charter on Geographical Education (Charter) outlined some key research questions that geography educators around the world should engage with and the contribution, outcomes and research agenda of geographical education (International Geographic Union - Commission on Geographical Education, 2016). Using the Charter as a basis, we compare different curricula around the world by identifying the core geographical concepts, skills and attitudes of geography education with a view of developing a framework that allows researchers and teachers to exchange ideas on how to teach geography better. Through content analyses of curriculum documents, international declarations on geographical education and discussions with international scholars and practitioners, we examine the levels at which geography is taught, the intended cognitive and affective learning outcomes, the instructional approaches, the assessment practices, and even the teacher professional development opportunities that are described in the documents in each country’s case. Consequently, we develop a holistic framework that can be used by geography educators who seek to compare school geography practices around the world. In addition, we attempt to describe the essence of geographical education within an international context, which will have applicability for researchers developing an international assessment item, for instance. The research project will have important contributions to the international geographical education community as well as geographical education in Singapore.