Course Content
1 Introduction
Training secondary school geography teachers in pedagogies for sustainability and geoinformation issues. Authors: Karl Donert, Alan Parkinson, Michaela Lindner-Fally
GI Pedagogy MOOC
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The issue of schema rises in geography. How are schema built and rebuilt? Quite often, when students come to us they will have an image of the … world might look a bit like this. It’s probably based on the famous Mercator Projection of the world. The only problem with this is that the Mercator Projection is actually incorrect because it shows lots of countries in the world as being much bigger, relative to others than they actually are.

If we convert the countries to their true size we get a whole other image, which is a much fairer representation of each countrys’ area. Greenland, for example in the northern part of the map just here is actually in real life much much smaller than India. But on the Mercator Projection, is made to look larger. This is because the world is round and we’re trying to convert a spherical space onto a flat surface and there are going to be all kinds of distortions that occur, so it’s important we try and help students to correct their earlier schema, so that they realise that this is the case.

Let’s look at some of the reasons why schema and Cognitive Load Theory can be useful:

  • First of all, it’s evidence-led, which means that there’s an awful lot .of evidence to educational research to support the ideas within it.
  • It explains an awful lot of what goes on in schools not just what goes on in classrooms but also sometimes to do with behaviour and the organisation of things.
  • It certainly has the capacity to reduce student stress prior to high stakes examinations such as GCSEs and A Levels and that’s because it promotes embedded learning so that the long-term memory schema are much stronger and put less stress on the working memory during an exam.
  • It has the potential to reduce teach workload because we will find ourselves doing things which are more efficient and perhaps not doing things that are a bit of a waste of time.
  • It can catalyse improvements in attainment and lots of high achieving schools have in recent years adopted this and continue to improve their attainment.
  • It also chimes with trends in inspection and training in the UK and some other countries, for example, the English OFSTED framework now embraces Cognitive Load Theory, as do the Initial Teacher Training schemes that are being produced now and the Early Career Framework which is a recent development to support teachers in their first two years of teaching.
  • That means lots of teachers coming into the profession will be very cognisant of Cognitive Load Theory and schema building in perhaps ways that some of the older teachers who were trained a long time ago are less aware.