Learning Outcomes

UW Geography Learning Outcomes

An on-going showcase of undergraduate work, both in and out of class.

 

Executive Summary

Geography SOUL Project

April, 2013 version. Earlier versions: 2007, 2010.

“Geog 370 was my first taste of geographic analysis in writing and I had to connect scholarly texts to a specific thesis that I had. That got me into it, and forced me to apply things and put them in a framework. It was like being thrown into the fire.”

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Geography majors perceive themselves as successful learners increasingly confident and sophisticated in their analytic abilities, and eager to apply these skills in engagements with real-world issues.  By becoming immersed in framing researchable questions, learning to locate and use evidence, and developing multiple ways of answering those questions, our students found practical grounding in the ability to “think spatially like a geographer”. They find that their discipline-specific styles of inquiry engaged them more deeply with the world, and provide a sense of accountability for their opinions and for their approaches to solving problems and addressing large social, political and economic issues and forces.  We also found that our students perceive the major as offering especially varied and rich exposure to many different kinds of spatial reasoning, especially as embodied in quantitative reasoning, considerations of inequality, analyses of nature-society relationships, and intertwined ideas of scale, context (place), and difference. In short, in the interviews for this study, they literally thought through what it is to be a successful learner in this discipline.

Based on interviews, focus groups, e-mail questions, surveys and the faculty portfolio review, in terms of the chief aims of the Geog SOUL study, we conclude that our majors develop significant metacognitive, theoretical and quantitative skills that prepare them to undertake careful analysis and research design. They exhibited significant progress in nearly all categories over the two years of the study. We also conclude that our majors’ learning outcomes by and large conform to our departmental learning goals, though we also can clearly identify critical ways we can improve student learning, primarily by creating what we call “reflective learning moments” and by continuing to develop a tiered curriculum that makes increasing and cumulative demands on students.

Executive Summary of Geography Study of Undergraduate Learning

2009-10 student project: Selected Cultural and Historical Geographies of the Greater Seattle Area

Spring, 2010–Students in “World Hunger and Agricultural Development (Geog 371), work at local farms and foodbanks to learn firsthand about some of the links in global–and local–food system.