Chapter 33 Exploring pedagogic tensions in final year programme design
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There is a tension in the UK between providing students with the skills to be effective researchers in geography and promoting the skills which are sought after by employers. In undergraduate teaching the promotion of active learning, problem-based learning, enquiry-based learning, and expedition and fieldwork pedagogies are likely to involve group-based project work. These pedagogies develop skills of networking, discussion and group writing that have currency in many early stages of employment. The group approaches in early years are then in tension with a final year ethos of students demonstrating what they can do alone, through individual research projects, the dissertation and assignments. There is an argument that students find this change in ethos confusing and it disrupts their developmental preparation to be effective, team-based researchers in workplace or academic settings. This chapter explores some of the tensions in final year programme design and considers the argument for increasing group-based research challenges in the final undergraduate year. It is argued that challenging team-based projects, extending over a semester, offer appropriate development, demonstrate progression, enable deeper thinking, embed research and reporting skills through serious practical experience, and enable exploration and research into contemporary issues in geography that are relevant, exciting, and motivating. Such an approach reinforces the value of the research–teaching nexus and should enable groups of undergraduates to engage more actively in research areas which may otherwise be privileged to higher degree and research students.

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