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Volume 18, Number 2

Article 1:

The Evolution of the Modern Era of Geographic Education through Messages that Established the Foundation for K-12 Educators

Matthew T. Patton, R. Denise Blanchard, Richard G. Boehm

Volume 18 (2016), Number 2, pp. 10-25

This study examines key foundational documents and publications over the last several decades—the modern period of geographic education—to shed perspective on the evolution of the field through collaborations, writings, and events by pioneering leadership in K-12 geographic education. In doing so, this paper also identifies and elucidates seminal and significant “messages” of information, instruction, and guidance that have been disseminated by the university world of geography to K-12 geography teachers and opens the door for future research concerning the degree to which these “messages” have been received, understood, accepted and acted upon in the teaching of school geography.

Keywords: K-12 Geographic Education; Geography Education Instruction; Education Communication; Evolution of Geographic Education


Article 2:

Teachers’ Attitudes, Beliefs and Perceptions Towards Disseminated Information and Guidance from Leaders in Geographic Education: An Examination of the Trickle-down Effect

Matthew T. Patton and R. Denise Blanchard

Volume 18 (2016), Number 2, pp. 26-59

For well-over four decades, and through formal and informal means, leaders in geographic education have operated from a hierarchical position whereby information and guidance for teaching K-12 geography is primarily disseminated through books, monographs, reports and documents from “higher” levels of geographic education to the practitioners, the teachers, of geography in the classroom. Leaders assert in many publications to their own research community that K-12 teachers will benefit from programs, materials, information and guidance created by, and issued from leaders and professionals in geographic education. However, little is known regarding the extent to which K-12 geography teachers know about and/or are willing to act upon disseminated information and guidance. Quantitative results from a survey of teachers from the Texas Alliance for Geographic Education and the Texas Council for the Social Studies indicated that teachers are familiar with major documents and publications disseminated from well-known leaders in geographic education; however, receiving information and guidance is not enough. Teachers call for additional professional development, especially through networking and use of the Internet, so that they might know how to apply information and guidance to classroom teaching.

Keywords: K-12 Geographic Education, Geographic Education Communication, Major Research in Geographic Education, Teaching Geography Research


Article 3:

Assessing the Impact on Classroom Teaching from a Sustained Professional Development Program: Perceptions of Teachers Participating in the Yearlong Wayne Schools Global Geography Project

Karen Thomas-Brown

Volume 18 (2016), Number 2, pp. 60-85

Social studies content knowledge and pedagogical skills influence decisions that teachers make when faced with delivering various topics to students. This research reports on outcomes and perceptions of teachers participating in a yearlong professional development (PD) program, the Wayne Schools Global Geography Project (WSGG-project) that focused on improving teaching quality by offering over 100 hours of PD training to in-service social studies teachers. The core social studies content for this project encompassed Eastern and Western Hemisphere Studies, Contemporary Global Issues, Global Issues, and an introduction to Era 7-Global Crisis and Achievement 1900-1945.  The project targeted 6th, 7th, and 9th grades social studies teachers from the Wayne County Detroit Metro area, and used constructivist learning as the primary pedagogy pivot. The outcome of this project resulted in significant improvements in teachers’ levels of social studies content knowledge, as well as a shift in how they planned to teach social studies. Additionally, teacher participants evolved into a Collaborative Community of Professional Teachers (CCPT) and teacher researchers, as they examined, theorized and reported on their perceptions of how the project impacted their classroom practices.

Keywords: content knowledge, pedagogy, classroom practices, professional development, extended professional development programs


Article 4:

Mental Maps and a Community-Based Sense of Place:  A Case Study Among Kansas Third Graders

Thomas Larsen and John Harrington, Jr.

Volume 18 (2016), Number 2, pp. 86-111

A question exists regarding the role of education in helping students develop meaningful connections to place(s).  This longitudinal study uses a learning progressions framework and mental mapping to assess Kansas third graders and their community-based sense of place.  Learning progressions have received recent attention by geography education researchers and their importance was recognized in the Road map for 21st century geography education.  Current learning progression efforts have focused on the first theme (Standards 1-3) of the National Geography Standards:  the World in Spatial Terms.  The present study uses community-based sense of place as a conceptual framework to understand learning progressions for Standard Six:  how culture and experience influence people’s perceptions of places and regions.  At the state level, the concept of community represents a major theme for third grade in the Kansas standards for history, government, and social studies.  Classrooms from four demographically distinct areas of Kansas were surveyed:  Manhattan, Garden City, Horton, and Junction City.  During the study, students drew mental maps and talked about their community – once in September 2015 and a second time in January 2016.   Mental maps were analyzed and cross-referenced with responses from student focus groups to assess participants’ community-based sense of place and changes from September 2015 to January 2016.  Interviews with teachers helped assess educator knowledge of the concept, as well as document differences across classrooms in how the concept of community was incorporated into classroom instruction.  Results indicate a variability among the students in how they expressed their understanding of community using mental maps.  Findings also reveal a wide range of local knowledge that Kansas third graders possessed about their communities.

Keywords: Sense of Community, Mental Mapping, Elementary Education, Student Variability, Kansas