Using a Classroom Observation System to Analyze Content and Inquiry in Physical Geography




Ruhf, Robert J.
DeChano-Cook, Lisa M.

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The Grosvenor Center for Geographic Education


This study examined the extent to which two undergraduate physical geography teaching modules are aligned with national science teaching and learning standards and inquiry-based approaches to learning. These modules, which were implemented at a mid-sized university, were designed for both general education and pre-service elementary education students. The modules addressed the topics of differential heating and the Beaufort wind scale. Observations of teaching methodology were recorded in the physical geography classroom lecture and inquiry sessions as they were taught. These recorded observations were then analyzed and coded using a Lesson Observation System that is based on teaching and learning standards and inquiry based approaches to learning. Ratings data obtained from the System provide evidence that the two modules were taught with a high degree of consistency following the recommendations of the standards. The modules provided authentic examples to elementary and secondary education students of physical geography topics taught using an inquiry-based and standards based approach. Pre-service teachers should benefit from models of inquiry presented in a similar manner.



geography, science standards and inquiry, physical geography, classroom observations, pre-service teachers


Ruhf, R.J. & DeChano-Cook, L.M. (2011). Using a classroom observation system to analyze content and inquiry in physical geography. Research in Geographic Education, 13(1), pp. 5-19.


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