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Using Teaching Observations and Reflective Practice to Challenge Conventions and Conceptions of Teaching in Geography

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Cultural activities such as teaching and learning are highly complex systems that are deeply embedded in a wider culture and these factors impede change. Despite feeling directly the effect of the recent drive towards mass participation in higher education, most lecturers have not accounted for these changes in their teaching methods. Unless lecturers engage in critical reflection and ongoing discovery they stay trapped in unexamined judgements, interpretations, assumptions and expectations. Collaborative teaching observations and reflective practice were conducted by the author and colleagues with a range of experience within a geography department. Several surprising discrepancies appeared between lecturers' expectations and observations of the teaching sessions. The experience showed that, regardless of teaching experience, lectures allow the lecturer in his/her routine practice to neither appreciate his/her performance nor be aware of student understanding. Reflection on these experiences caused the re-evaluation of events and experience and the investigation of other firmly held beliefs that were frustrating and difficult to explain. If lecturers are to become proactive in their professional development, to question their teaching practice and become reflective practitioners, then our teaching culture must embrace the need for change and differences in teaching and learning.
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Keywords: Cultural scripts; problem-based learning; reflective practice; teaching observations

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Environment and Life Sciences, University of Salford, UK

Publication date: 2007-05-01

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