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 3: Bridging the divide between school and university geography – ‘mind the gap!’

Graham Butt


This chapter discusses the known ‘gap’ between the curricular content of school and undergraduate geography courses, as well as considering the variation in expected student skills between the two. The text draws on global ‘reviews’ of the state of geography education – including issues of transition from school to university – to provide a comparative perspective across jurisdictions (see Butt and Lambert, 2014). The experiences of transition reported by geography students themselves are noted. Previously the ways in which students have negotiated the perceived gap has been largely overlooked, although some work has been completed on self-reflection (Bryson, 1997), on developing transferable skills (Haigh and Kilmartin. 1999), and on approaches to learning in geography (Maguire et al., 2001). Although attention is given to the impact of recent education policy shifts in England, which have required university academics to help revise the content of geography ‘A’ (advanced) levels, the approach taken here enables the reader to make comparisons with educational situations in other countries. A small case study is provided, highlighting the convergence and divergence of content and skills in schools and universities in England, noting the recent work of the A Level Content Advisory Board (ALCAB). The provision of a complete global overview of the gaps between school and university geography, and of their potential solutions, in different jurisdictions is impractical. Therefore, the English case study is designed to highlight common issues and to suggest how similar transition problems might be addressed in different national contexts. Implications for the effective transfer of students from school to university geography courses are discussed and perennial concerns about the range of geography content taught to pre-university students are considered.

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