Integrating Inquiry, Field Experiences, and Service Learning in a Regional Geography Course

Authors: Alice Black*, Missouri State University
Topics: Regional Geography, Geography Education, Higher Education
Keywords: inquiry learning, service learning, regional, Ozarks
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Galerie 2, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The Geography of the Ozarks course is taught by a science educator who has integrated a number of pedagogical features of inquiry and experiential learning into the class. Inquiry is defined here primarily as exploration before explanation, although students also perform several scientific experimental activities in which they make predictions and offer hypotheses to explain their predictions before testing or collecting data. Examples of inquiry activities include defining boundaries of the Ozarks, soil testing, mineral and rock identification, and population studies using 1850 census and also cemetery data. Other inquiry-related pedagogical methods include Socratic questioning and analysis of two videos using critical thinking techniques. The three-hour biannual summer course features several extended field trips to various Ozarks regions where students explore current and past regional culture, economics, and history, as well as the distinctive karst geology and water resources. Students meet memorable people who have dedicated themselves to preserving various aspects of the Ozarks, such as Old Route 66 and African American heritage. Twice the instructor has designated Geography of the Ozarks as an Integrated Service Learning course. All students perform fifteen hours of service with a community partner. During one summer, students individually worked with community organizations to meet Ozarkers who were working to address various area issues. Another summer, the instructor received a CASL Faculty Fellowship grant for a project in which students tested water quality and researched history for a new local park and for the Watershed Center of the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks.

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