Active Learning and Student Engagement: International Perspectives and Practices in Geography in Higher Education

Active Learning and Student Engagement: International Perspectives and Practices in Geography in Higher Education

Active Learning and Student Engagement: International Perspectives and Practices in Geography in Higher Education

Active Learning and Student Engagement: International Perspectives and Practices in Geography in Higher Education

Synopsis

This book examines significant issues in geography teaching and learning from the perspectives of an international network of academic geographers and postgraduate students. Drawing on classroom experiences and research in a wide variety of educational settings, the authors describe conceptually interesting and practical applications for enhancing student learning through inquiry, problem-based learning, field study, online collaboration, and other highly engaging forms of pedagogy. Other articles focus on approaches for improving the experiences of distance learners, strategies for enhancing the employability of geography students, and preparing students to engage ethical issues in the discipline.

An international audience of educators will find much of value through the use of comparative examples, literature reviews encompassing research in multiple national contexts, and an underlying awareness of the diversity of practices in higher education internationally.

This book is a collection of articles previously published in two special issues of the Journal of Geography in Higher Education.

Excerpt

MICK HEALEY, MICHAEL SOLEM AND ERIC PAWSON

There is growing evidence to show that engaging students is a pre-requisite to enhancing student learning, retention and achievement (Healey et al., forthcoming, 2010; Healey & Roberts, 2004; Ramsden, 2003). There appears to be a desire by virtually all educators, almost as a cri de coeur, for more student engagement (Bryson & Hand, 2007). Bryson et al. (2008, 1) define engagement as a concept which “encompasses the perceptions, expectations and experience of being a student and the construction of being a student”. Barnett & Coate (2005, 165), furthermore, suggest that “the test of an effective curriculum is ‘engagement’: Are the students individually engaged? Are they collectively engaged?” The chapters in this book show that active learning is a key way in which to engage students. The challenge, according to Barnett & Coate, is that: “A complex and uncertain world requires curricula in which students as human beings are placed at their centre … A curriculum of this kind has to be understood as the imaginative design of spaces where creative things can happen as students become engaged” (2005, back cover). This volume presents many creative ways of engaging students through active learning, both in the classroom and beyond.

The chapters developed from two workshops organized by the International Network for Learning and Teaching Geography in Higher Education (INLT) and held in Glasgow, UK and Brisbane, Australia (Healey, 2006a; Pawson, 2008). Since it was established in 1999, the INLT has evolved an effective process of bringing academics from several different countries together to reflect collaboratively on aspects of teaching and learning (Hay et al 2000; Hay, 2008; Healey, 2006b). Well before the meetings in Glasgow and Brisbane, participants were allocated to groups of five or six depending on their preferred topics, and accounting as far as possible for a balance of nationality, gender and experience. Each group, under the leadership of their chair, was asked to develop a 2,500 word discussion paper on their topic, which was put on-line for a month long debate prior to the workshop. The 48-hour workshop consisted of a mixture of plenary and group sessions interspersed with social activities. By the end of the workshop each group had prepared an outline draft of a final paper, which they then had another two to three months to reshape before final editing and submission to the Journal of Geography in Higher Education (JGHE). The following 13 chapters are the papers published in JGHE following refereeing and reworking.

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