During the past decade, the role of educational research in the UK has been the subject of considerable debate. Discussion has centred on issues such as: priorities for educational research; how 'user groups' of research should be involved; the extent to which research should lead to 'applied outcomes'; and the 'relevance' of research (Rudduck and McIntyre 1998). Underpinning this debate is the notion accepted by most educational researchers that there should be some sort of connection between educational research on the one hand and the policy and practice of education on the other. How this connection is conceptualised varies, however, particularly in relation to teaching. Hargreaves has argued that teaching should be a 'research-based' profession and that it should be 'evidence-based' (Hargreaves 1998). These phrases suggest a direct relationship between applied research and application in the classroom. Hannon (1998), however, sees the role of research somewhat differently when he states, 'Teachers do not use research as a cookbook but as a resource in constructing their view of what is worth aiming for and likely ways to get it' (p. 151).
The general debate about educational research has raised questions that are important for geographical education. What is worth researching? Can research provide evidence for a basis for teaching geography? How can it help teachers to construct their views of what is worth aiming for? These questions provide a context for this chapter which sets out to explore the role of research in supporting the teaching and learning of Geography in schools. The approach I have adopted is different from others who have written about geography education research. Other approaches have given emphasis to what has been researched and how. Foskett and Marsden (1999) have compiled a useful bibliography, categorising what has been written on geographical and environmental education into themes. Williams (1996) and Slater (1996) were both concerned with how research into geographical education has been carried out and have illustrated different 'approaches', 'methods' and 'ideologies' with examples. The starting point for these writers was the research itself.
I have approached the question about the role of research in supporting teaching and learning from the other end of the research/practice debate. I want to focus