Evaluating teaching with a GeoCapabilities approach
The associate teachers involved in the GeoCapabilities 3 project used a rich repertoire of evaluation tools to assess teaching and learning, including specific tools for pre-lesson evaluation, control mechanisms during teaching and post-lesson evaluation tools. These included a student pre-lesson and post-lesson protocol, concept mapping, students’ free writing, semi-structured questioning and semi-structured peer interviews and focus groups.
Most of the evaluation was formative to support further development of students’ PDK. However, teachers are aware that the evaluation was mainly short term and that only a longitudinal study could identify how deeply students had developed PDK.
Innovative ways of evaluation were employed by teachers, specifically student evaluation (the self-evaluation and the evaluation of the teaching) and peer evaluation (evaluative discussions with other teachers or geography educators).
Most of the teachers perceived their lessons as effective, mainly because they positively affected students’ PDK (identified by the pre- and post-lesson protocol) and effectively engaged students in complex and relevant discussions. Although the lesson outcomes were met, some issues in the process of teaching were observed – e.g. lesson time-management (lack of time devoted to debriefing, sharing and interpreting students’ findings).
Some teachers felt the planned activities should be shortened to avoid students losing focus. In other cases, teachers had to provide students with more scaffolding than planned to apply thinking as intended. Depending on the teachers’ self-evaluation of lessons, some lesson plans were adapted for future use.
Looking at students’ evaluations, generally, they responded very positively. Firstly, they appreciated that teachers engaged them in the lesson by discussions, enquiry, interesting questions, and problems to be addressed. This was supported by using rich and engaging real-world data and visualisations, helping students understand the fundamental concepts better. This was crucial as, in some cases, students found the concepts explained in textbooks too general and hard to follow.
Almost all participating classes appreciated that the lesson focused on the practical consequences of migration processes for their everyday life (e.g. the interconnection of local and global processes) and, especially, were impressed by the personal stories of migrants. Such lessons help them to think of their own migration background and to find out new information (most of the emotional nature) about their families. This led to support in the formation of their own personal geography.
Almost all participating classes appreciated that the lessons focused on the practical consequences of migration processes for their everyday life (e.g., the interconnection of local and global processes) and, especially, were impressed by the personal stories of migrants.
Such lessons help them to think of their own migration backgrounds and to make new insights (which could be attitudes as well as knowledge) about their families. This led to support in the formation of their own personal geography.