Exploring the past and mapping the future of geography education research

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Geography education

Over the next few years the form, function and state of education research is expected to alter radically, including research into the changing nature of subject-based education in schools.

While some view the progress already made in geography education research as dynamic and purposeful, others see it as having achieved rather more modest results. It appears timely for a comprehensive and realistic assessment of the challenges and opportunities facing geography education research to be undertaken.

Professor Graham Butt, Co-Director of Research in the School of Education at Oxford Brookes University, is one of the recipients of the University’s Research Excellence Awards.

The Awards were launched last year as part of Oxford Brookes’ commitment to supporting both research-active academics and the aims of the recently revised Research and Knowledge Exchange Strategy 2016-2020.

The funding provides Professor Butt with greater research time to work on a new book which will present a unique assessment of the development of research in geography education. It will address the persistent questions of concern to geography educationists regarding what and how to teach geography, and why this matters in our rapidly changing world.

Here he talks about this project.

This book is set within the context of current and ongoing debates about education policy in England, and further afield. I believe that its relevance is particularly high, given the recent re-shaping of teacher education and professional development in many national jurisdictions, with associated effects on subject-based education and its research.

Professor Graham Butt, Oxford Brookes University

This book is set within the context of current and ongoing debates about education policy in England, and further afield. I believe that its relevance is particularly high, given the recent re-shaping of teacher education and professional development in many national jurisdictions, with associated effects on subject-based education and its research.

Entitled Geography Education Research: Retrospect and Prospect, the book is aimed at academics, research students, policy makers and practitioners in education who undertake, use or shape the future of research in geography education. It will be relevant to geography teachers in schools, particularly those who have an active interest in subject-based research.

I intend this book to provide a comprehensive exploration of the forces that have driven the development of geography education research and pedagogy. It will pursue questions such as: What has been successfully achieved during the short life of research into geography education? What has been the main focus for research in geography education and why have its results been largely modest, or indeed non-existent?

REA logo 2016

The growth of research into geography education grew post 1945 from a specifically practical concern with the pre-service preparation of teachers. University Departments of Education (UDEs) and teacher training colleges were founded to serve this need, which partly explains the origins of a ‘theory-practice divide’ in education research.

Beginning with an historical examination of the growth of education research I will proceed to explore more contemporary developments, considering current research methods and possible future education policy with special reference to geography. Radical and wide-ranging in its scope, this work will ultimately acknowledge the emergent status of much research in geography education, the rather insecure nature of all education research, and whether in the future such research will even be located in university schools of education.

I expect to have completed the research work and book by 2018.

You can find out more about Professor Graham Butt on his profile page.

Keep reading the University’s  news pages for further information on the recipients of the Research Excellence Awards.