The Grosvenor Center sponsors conferences of national and international scope in order to gather scholars from around the world to further research in geographic education. Students' presentations of original research at the annual meetings of the AAG, NCGE, and most currently, the Geographical Association are also highlighted below.
In 2010, The Grosvenor Center and the National Geographic Society Education Foundation hosted a research conference in Washington D.C. for early career professionals. Research papers were given by emerging scholars and critiqued by a group of senior mentors. Several of these papers appeared in the journal, Research in Geographic Education. In 2011, a second “Early Careers” conference will be held in Lafayette, LA. Encouraging research by developing scholars has become a major emphasis for the Grosvenor Center. The Center will play a key role in the planning and programming of the 2012 National Council for Geographic Education annual conference hosted by the Texas State University-San Marcos Department of Geography.
Texas State University-Department of Geography along with the Gilbert Grosvenor Center for Geographic Education and the Texas Alliance for Geographic Education will host the 97th Annual meeting of the National Council for Geographic Education. The meeting will take place on October 4-7, 2012 in San Marcos, Texas at the Embassy Suites-San Marcos Hotel Spa and Conference Center. Hundreds of geography educators (K-12 & University) and professionals from around the world will attend this meeting, to exchange ideas, research, resources, and best practices in geography education. With the upcoming debut of the long-awaited revised geography standards, why not take the chance to connect with the geography education community and extend your knowledge.
As the nation begins to focus on geography in the classroom, get a head start this October with sessions, workshops, and speakers all designed to expand and improve geography education. Spend the day networking with other participants during our opening reception, while exploring exhibits about the field. Take a class from leading groups in thearea such as National Geographic, Google, Esri, or AAG. Don’t feel like spending a day “inside the classroom”? Attend one of the many field trips that explore the best of San Marcos, Austin, San Antonio and the surrounding Hill Country. And don’t forget to join us Saturday night at our annual conference dinner and party featuring live entertainment.
Don’t delay! Visit the links below to sign up today for the NCGE conference this October 4-7th in San Marcos, Texas at the Embassy Suites Hotel Spa and Conference Center.
NCGE Conference Information & non-Texas teacher registration
Texas Teacher Registration
Geographic Association Conference in Manchester, U.K. April 12-14, 2012
By Nick Stamper
2011 National Conference on Geographic Education
By Nick Stamper
Published: September 12, 2011
PORTLAND: The 2011 National Conference on Geographic Education (NCGE) was held in Portland, Oregon on August 4-11, 2011. Several professors and students from Texas State University-San Marcos were in attendance. The Grosvenor Center was well represented by three doctoral students and one master’s student and by the office grant specialist and the grant secretary.
Dr. Richard G. Boehm, along with doctoral students Carmen Brysch and Cheryl Frazier, gave a presentation “Water and Food Production” which is the newest installment of the video-based professional development series “Geography: Teaching with the Stars.” This program features best teaching practices to engage students in group and hands-on activities to learn about food production and water in the United States. Topics include general distribution of agriculture and grazing, technological changes and the resulting 20th century transformation of agricultural practices, shifting population distributions, and agriculture’s impact on water quality. Teachers will learn pedagogical strategies to teach the content, such as map interpretation of print and digital/interactive maps, inquiry, webquests, and others.
Doctoral student Matt Patton and master’s student Nick Stamper presented a poster on some forthcoming research titled “Learning to Think (Geo) Spatially through Creative Play.” This research is being conducted along with Texas State doctoral student Kanika Verma and directed by former Texas State University professor and current Association of American Geographers researcher Dr. Niem Huynh via a grant she secured from NCGE. This collaborative effort focuses on using online games and paper-and-pencil crossword puzzles as interventions that improve specific geographic and spatial thinking skills. In particular, scale, orientation, coordinate systems, and geographic vocabulary were addressed. Students were asked to take a pre-test, play the online games and complete the puzzles for thirty minutes a day for five days, and then take a post-test to evaluate any progress made since the beginning of the study.
The Portland NCGE Conference also provided the opportunity to promote the 2012 NCGE conference which will be held in San Marcos, Texas. The Grosvenor Center staff, including grant secretary Susan Alexander and grant specialist Leslie Garrett, promoted the event throughout the conference as did former Texas State students and current Texas State faculty.
Texas State University-San Marcos was well represented at the awards ceremony held at the National Council for Geographic Education's annual conference in Portland, Oregon August 6, 2011. Alumni Dr. Audrey Mohan and Dr. Edris J. Montalvo both received the Salvatore J. Natoli Dissertation Award in Geographic Education. Doctoral student, Carmen Brysch, received the Willard and Ruby S. Miller Grant for Research in Geographic Education, and Dr. James F. Peterson won NCGE's highest honor, the George J. Miller Award for Distinguished Service to Geographic Education.
2011 Biannual Grosvenor Center Conference on Research in Geographic Education
By Matt Patton
Published: September 12, 2011
LAFAYETTE: Over the course of three days, May 19-21, twenty-two scholars came together in southwestern Louisiana to discuss the state of research in geographic education. Research papers were given by emerging scholars and critiqued by a group of senior mentors. Encouraging research by developing scholars has become a major emphasis for the Grosvenor Center and this conference provided the perfect venue for such encouragement.
The research papers fell into four categories: Understanding Spatial Thinking in the Geographic Standards, Spatial Knowledge and Perception, Field Work and Environmental Education, and Geography and the School Curriculum. These varied categories created lively discussions amongst the panel of senior mentors.
In the months leading up to the conference, the emerging scholars were matched with senior mentors who helped them through the writing and editing processes. The peer reviewed papers were then presented to the conference attendees in May.
The attendees came from across the United States and the United Kingdom. In total, nineteen institutions were represented including Texas State University-San Marcos, the Association of American Geographers, National Geographic Society, and the University of London, among many other prestigious colleges and universities.
After the formal presentations and discussions concluded, scholars were treated to three distinct Lafayette experiences. Saturday morning began with a trip to Breaux Bridge, LA. There, at Café Des Amis, the group enjoyed a zydeco breakfast, which included live zydeco music, dancing, and exceptional food.
Next on the schedule was Vermilionville, a historic, recreated Acadian village, which featured a ninety-two year old violinist recounting his experiences in the bayous. The afternoon was spent learning about the flora and fauna of the Lake Martin swamp, and of course, searching for alligators. The tour guide was brave enough to pull an alligator halfway into the boat, before releasing her and letting everyone onboard exhale.
This biannual conference was preceded by a successful meeting in Washington, D.C. and there is great anticipation for the next meeting in 2013.
2011 Association of American Geographers Conference
By Matt Patton
Published: September 12, 2011
SEATTLE: The 2011 Association of American Geographers conference was held from April 12-16 in Washington. Texas State University-San Marcos sent fifty professors and students to the meeting, including three doctoral students currently working in the Gilbert M. Grosvenor Center for Geographic Education.
Carmen Brysch and Cheryl Frazier submitted papers for the Gail Hobbs Student Paper Competition which focuses on original research by students on topics of geography education.
Ms. Brysch presented her paper, “Evaluating Educational Computer Games in Geography: What is the Relationship to State Curriculum Requirements for Social Studies?” She states the case that computer games whether accessed online or through commercial software have the potential to be used in educational settings and are continuing to make their appearance in classrooms. Even though these educational computer games are becoming more frequent in use, questions arise as to whether or not these games are applicable for teachers to use in the classroom. The purpose of her study was to evaluate three educational computer games that could be used in a geography or social studies classroom in order to determine if the games measure up to curriculum requirements set at the state level in Texas for the sixth grade social studies course, World Cultures. A content analysis of these games was conducted and revealed that these games do measure up to social studies curriculum requirements and are appropriate for student and teacher use.
Ms. Frazier offered her paper entitled “Influences of Texas Geography Teachers' Educational Backgrounds on Teaching Practices and Beliefs of Map Skills.” The purpose of her mixed-methods study was to examine the influence of pre-service geography education on teachers' beliefs and teaching practices of map skills in Texas's ninth grade World Geography Course. A questionnaire with both open- and closed-ended items was used to gather information from World Geography teachers. Survey respondents were divided into two groups: geography major and non-geography major. Themes were identified from open-ended item responses, and then responses were coded into nominal categories for analysis along with the closed-item questions using descriptive statistics. Results indicate that no statistically significant difference in the teachers' beliefs and teaching practices of map skills exist based on major field of study.
Carmen Brysch was selected as the 2011 Gail Hobbs Student Paper Competition winner! As a result, she was awarded a $100 scholarship. Congratulations!
Matt Patton put forth a poster presentation entitled “Using Flash-Based Interactive Maps of the United States as Teaching Tools.” His research project utilized interactive maps for geographical and historical purposes. It highlighted the territorial evolution and state development of the United States. Designed using a combination of GIS techniques and Flash programming, the maps are presented as clickable objects. Each map includes historical context which enhances learning opportunities. Social studies teachers can use these maps in a classroom setting to show their students how geography and history are intertwined.
2011 Geography Summer Academy
By Matt Patton
Published: October 5, 2011
SAN MARCOS: The Grosvenor Center for Geographic Education at Texas State University-San Marcos partnered with seven Texas school districts to offer a seven day, in residency Geography Summer Academy that provided high school teachers and students with the opportunity to experience “hands-on” teaching and learning of physical and human geography, as well as to explore real-world examples of human-environment interaction.
During the Spring 2011, advertising and application materials for the “Teaching and Learning Physical and Human Geography in an Outdoor Laboratory” project were distributed to educators across the state of Texas, utilizing Texas Alliance communication networks such as the organizational website, listserv, and biannual newsletter. Students that are traditionally underrepresented in the field of geography were recruited to participate in the workshop.
A total of ten teachers, including three teacher consultants (Hagen Streckel from Copperas Cove High School, Josh Brake and Trent Wenzel from New Braunfels High School), and forty students from seven different Texas high schools were accepted as participants. These individuals made up ten different teams, with each team consisting of one teacher and three or more students. Participating schools include Copperas Cove High School, Frenship High School – Lubbock, LBJ High School – Laredo, Jack C. Hays High School – Buda, Los Fresnos High School, Juan Seguin High School – Arlington, and Clemens High School – Schertz.
Using the Greater Austin-San Antonio Region as a field laboratory, academy participants gained geographic literacy knowledge and real world problem-solving skills while they were engaged in outdoor group research projects related to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and the Texas College Readiness Standards. During the week long Summer Academy all of the teachers participated in either face-to-face or online professional development workshops on watershed management.
One teacher from each workshop group was selected to teach a lesson on watershed management. The students were then split into two groups and each of the teachers implemented their lesson plans. A pre- and post-test were given to the students to determine if there was a statistically significant difference in student learning outcomes based on a model of teacher professional development.
Over the course of the week, participants went on several field excursions. Included were trips to the River Systems Institute, Aquarena Springs Center, Canyon Lake-Gorge, San Marcos Treatment Plant, Austin-Hornsby Bend, and Natural Bridge Caverns.
Geography: Teaching with the Stars – Update, Fall 2011
By Matt Patton
Published: September 12, 2011
SAN MARCOS: The purpose of Geography: Teaching with the Stars is to contribute substantially to geographic education in middle/junior high and high school. Since its inception in 2009, this purpose has remained true. Currently, there are two units available: Globalization and Watershed Management. The third unit, Water and Food Production is in the final stages of production and should be available soon. A fourth unit, focusing on tidewaters, is in the beginning stages of production.
Each program features in-class demonstrations by master teachers, lesson plans, supplementary materials, content enhancement piece videos, and commentaries by mentor teachers on the pedagogical strategies used in the classroom demonstrations. Also available are the facilitator’s guides, which are designed for leading both on-line and face-to-face professional development workshops using Teaching with the Stars materials, and all print materials, such as graphics, lesson plans, and classroom activities.
Specifically, at the core of the project is a media-based classroom demonstration of high quality teaching strategies performed by the “star” that will demonstrate to teachers how geographic perspectives, concepts, and skills together with relevant instructional and assessment strategies can be used to improve students’ ability to understand and deal with the geographical aspect of important issues that affect their daily lives.
Exemplary classroom lessons serve a critical role in the professional development activities in this project. These lessons are made available to project participants to use in their own classrooms. These lessons are designed to support relevant national and state geography standards.
In addition, there are three online forums available for participants to share resources, ideas, and to ask questions of project personnel and content/pedagogical area experts.
The program has been featured at several conferences including the National Conference on Geographic Education, the National Council for the Social Studies, the Association of American Geographers, the Texas Council for the Social Studies, the Michigan Council for the Social Studies, the Applied Geography Conference, and the Friends of Geography Conference.
For more information, please visit the Teaching with the Stars website, www.geoteach.org.