Geography's Role in Supporting Non-Traditional, At-Risk Student Education for the General Educational Development Credential




Morales, Francisco G.

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This study examines the student learning of non-traditional at-risk students that have elected to pursue a General Educational Development (GED) credential within the curricular framework of a federally funded Job Corps program. Utilizing theory from the general areas of spatial thinking, schema and experiential learning, an experiment was constructed to test whether an early introduction of map and geographical skills would result in higher levels of learning by students in a social studies curriculum. In the existing curriculum sequence for the Job Corps students of social studies, geography teaching and learning comes last among the following subject blocks, which include: United States History, World History, Government/Civic, and Economics. In this experiment, geography teaching and learning was moved to first position in a Treatment Group classroom (See Table 1-2). It was hypothesized that this restructuring of curriculum blocks would result in higher levels of learning, not just in geography, but in all of the social studies subject blocks. The theory behind this curricular restructuring is that geography (spatial thinking, schema, and certain aspects of experiential learning) will better prepare students for understanding the content and method of other social studies subjects. A Treatment and Control Group of students were surveyed to determine significant differences between those learning in the traditional curriculum sequence, versus those in a classroom which geography was used as the introductory block of instruction. Using an existing GED preparation test, pre and post scores were used as an indication of student learning. Statistically significant higher test scores in the Treatment Group indicate that students benefit greatly from the reorganized curriculum. These findings suggest recommendations for teachers, curriculum planners, and student learning. They also have substantial education policy implications for the educational administration of Job Corps training centers.



at-risk youth, Job Corps, GED tests, study of geography, curriculum change


Morales, F.G. (2011). Geography's role in supporting non-traditional, at-risk student education for the General Educational Development credential (Unpublished dissertation). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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