Place, Learning Progressions, and Transformative Geographic Education




Larsen, Thomas B.
Harrington, John, Jr.

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The Grosvenor Center for Geographic Education


Place has been identified as a cornerstone within K-12 geography education. As a core geographic concept, the power of place situates environmental and human phenomena in a manner that enables specialized and distinctive thinking about locations. Place exists prominently within the geography education standards and is one of the five themes of geography. Learning progressions provide an approach to studying how students advance their knowledge about a subject as their intellectual ideas and ability to communicate grow. Transformative research is a game changer: if a transformation occurs, then the situation is different following a change in thinking. This essay addresses the prospect that use of the learning progression approach in education research can transform K-12 educational efforts centered on the concept of place. We begin with a discussion of what constitutes transformative change and move on to address transformations in geography and geography education. Next, we summarize an introductory, one-year effort addressing learning progressions for place within geography education. We conclude with the idea that while a transformation related to place in geography education has not happened yet, the rare possibility does exist.



geography, learning progressions, place, transformative, geography education


Larsen, T.B. & Harrington, J. (2017). Place, learning progressions, and transformative geographic education. Research in Geographic Education, 19(2), pp. 66-79.


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