Pupils' conceptions of learning geography under the National Curriculum
Conceptions of geography and learning geography have been studied through recording the experiences of a group of secondary school pupils over a threeyear period. This group formed part of the first cohort to experience Key Stage 3 Geography in the National Curriculum. The study is set within the context of Geography in the National Curriculum and the formulation and issues arising from this are discussed. A review of recent research in geographical education is presented to indicate how this study adds to current thought and practice. The study sought evidence to answer two specific questions: 1. What is geography? 2. What is learning geography? The study is set in a secondary school in Kent where the researcher has taught for sixteen years. Evidence was obtained from two classes of pupils, these were taught geography by the researcher for the whole period of Key Stage 3 1991- 1994. Data was obtained through applying a range of methods. The study was conducted in the phenomenographic tradition, seeking qualitatively different ways in which pupils understood the phenomena of geography and learning geography, and describing the "structural" and "referential" aspects of each. Categories of description of the distinctly different ways in which the phenomena are understood have been identified, presented and discussed. The categories are illustrated by quotes from individual pupils. These form the results of the study. The results of the study shed light on the ways in which pupils understand aspects of geography and learning geography as developed in the context of Geography in the National Curriculum. The longitudinal perspective adopted illuminates how these understandings change over time. A discussion is presented which clarifies the main features of the conceptions discovered. This is followed by a consideration as to how the results of the research could be applied by teachers to their understanding of geography, the pupils they teach, and in planning learning experiences. The thesis concludes by drawing together the contextual setting of the research, methodology and key findings. It suggests reasons that may have influenced the findings before considering their utility and avenues for further research.