Handbook for Teaching and Learning in Geography
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Handbook for Teaching and Learning in Geography

Edited by Helen Walkington, Jennifer Hill and Sarah Dyer

This exemplary Handbook provides readers with a novel synthesis of international research, evidence-based practice and personal reflections to offer an overview of the current state of knowledge in the field of teaching geography in higher education. Chapters cover the three key transitions – into, through, and out of higher education – to present a thorough analysis of the topic.
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Chapter 24: Taking ownership: active learning and student engagement

Eric Pawson and Mark Poskitt


This chapter focuses on the theme of ‘taking ownership’; that is, the assumption of responsibility for one’s own learning. As a process it demands significant commitment, but has the potential to reap many benefits in terms of motivation and student engagement, which in turn may lead to greater understanding and enhanced learning. We develop the argument in four parts, starting by exploring the subversion of traditional hierarchical structures, drawing out the distinction between teaching and learning, constructivism and the creation of knowledge. Second, we examine the implications of taking ownership for the student as subject, for the lecturer as tutor and mentor, and for the construction and use of learning spaces. Third, we illustrate the discussion with three case studies to encourage those who wish to develop their own classroom practices: problem-based learning; undergraduate research; and living laboratories. We conclude by drawing the threads together to show how taking ownership enables lifelong learning and encourages the elastic and creative thinking skills required for navigating the challenges of the Anthropocene. The theme also has implications for authorship, and we discuss these implications as a combined student/staff writing team.

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