Student teachers' reflections on prior experiences of learning geography

Dolan, A. M., Waldron, F., Pike, S. and Greenwood, R. (2014) Student teachers' reflections on prior experiences of learning geography. pp. 314-330. ISSN 10382046 (ISSN)


Primary geography education is an important part of initial teacher education. The importance of prior experiences in the development of student teachers has long been recognised and there is growing evidence of the nature of those experiences in areas such as geography. This paper reports the findings of research conducted with one cohort of undergraduate primary student teachers in every college of education in Ireland. The research explores the prior experiences of student teachers as learners of geography and their perceptions of the subject. While there were differences between student teachers from the Republic of Ireland and from Northern Ireland, attitudes towards geography were predominantly positive. Positive experiences focused on interesting and enthusiastic teachers and active and participatory learning approaches. Negative experiences of geography centred on the dominance of textbook-based teaching and the requirement to memorise content. The article argues that by providing positive and negative images of practice in the teaching of geography, students' prior experiences can prompt insight into practices that promote deep learning, facilitate the integration of the personal and the professional dimensions of teaching and provide a starting point for the development of a vocabulary of critique and evaluation.

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