Postgraduate Spotlights: Using a Community of Inquiry approach to enhance student engagement in geographical higher education
journal contributionposted on 2023-07-12, 10:51 authored by Thomas Lowe, Janine Venema, Merle Aarnink, Jim Boekhout, Tessa Osborne, Jacob Leman
While the majority of pedagogical practice has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the teaching of geographical research skills has been especially difficult with the loss of fieldwork and practical applications. Furthermore, the move to online teaching has diminished the learning communities in face-to-face classrooms. In an attempt to counteract these issues, this paper reflects on a learning activity in an undergraduate geographical research methods course, ‘Postgraduate Spotlights’ where two postgraduate researchers presented their specialist research methods followed by an interactive question-and-answer session with the undergraduates. We (as postgraduates, undergraduates and teaching staff) found that the open and critical discussion in the workshop fostered a Community of Inquiry that encouraged engagement from students stimulating their curiosity about geographical research methods. Through our discussion, we demonstrate the importance of having postgraduate researchers involved in teaching, as Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) given their liminal role of researcher-learner. We also emphasise the importance of letting the students lead their own learning, building a Community of Inquiry across academic stages, and creating a constructive dialogue around geographical research methods. While the reproducibility of the workshop face-to-face remains to be seen, this article emphasises the potential for applying such an approach to stimulate free-flowing discussion and ultimately promote a Community of Inquiry.
Author affiliationSchool of Geography, Geology and the Environment, University of Leicester
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