Bringing Map Learning to ‘Life’ by Using the Environment as a Learning Resource

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Sarita Ramsaroop


The last two decades have brought to light local and international research on problems encountered by learners when learning Geography at school, especially map work. One of the reasons provided for poor learner performance relates to teacher expertise in teaching this subject. This research explored how first-year student teachers from a university in Johannesburg, South Africa, merged their coursework with their fieldwork when learning map work; and how they were able to re-imagine their teaching of map skills to learners in the Intermediate Phase of the primary school. In addressing the research aim, a qualitative case study method of inquiry, using open-ended questionnaires, was undertaken. Drawing on the findings from the data, I assert that using Kolb’s experiential learning theory, to integrate student teacher learning in coursework and fieldwork, not only strengthened pedagogic content knowledge, but also enabled student teachers to exhibit agency. The data confirmed that student teachers configured their understandings of map work by engaging their past experiences with the present (learning in coursework and fieldwork) to re-orientate their learning towards the future (how they will teach learners). For example, student teachers were empowered to take agentic action by reflecting on their learning in coursework and fieldwork to make informed pedagogical choices on how they would teach this content area to learners in the primary school. Thus, the foundations for learning to teach geographical enquiry skills were being developed.

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How to Cite
Ramsaroop, S. (2019). Bringing Map Learning to ‘Life’ by Using the Environment as a Learning Resource. Alternation Journal, (21), 109-130. Retrieved from
Author Biography

Sarita Ramsaroop, University of Johannesburg