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Geography Teaching Philosophy
Teaching philosophy reflects the foundation of scholarly dialogue in a clear and concise manner. The Geography Program at the University of Central Missouri (UCM) focuses on quality teaching putting students at the center of the classroom to quickly notice when students are motivated to learn and also when they get confused.? The teaching philosophy strongly emphasizes on the link between the theoretical knowledge students gain in the classroom and its applications to the broad field of geography for majors and to daily life for non-majors. The Geography Program believes that a well-defined teaching philosophy is essential to creating and maintaining a department culture supportive of teaching and to highlight purposeful, reflective, documented foundation of scholarly dialogue. The geography has specific teaching philosophy for academic preparation that has global span. ?
We have a group of international scholars from various countries. Our faculty members show enough respects for student.? As the Chinese proverb goes, “I hear I forget, I see I remember, I do I understand, with a new addition. I teach and I learn,” our faculty members make all the classes vivid and lively. Since most of the classes are full of diverse populations, we try to adopt a variety of teaching styles in classes to meet the varied needs of the groups. Each student comes into class with various schemas. We believe one of the most challenging demands of teaching is the ability to cultivate a delicate balance and peculiar relationship with students of various backgrounds. It is a relationship that our faculty members function simultaneously as admirer and critic, advocates and judges. Our faculty create active learning non-threatening environment and encourage students to ask questions at anytime. In the classroom, our faculty members frequently check how much students understood about the concept just covered and engage them in the topics being discussed to remove misconceptions.? Our faculty members are trained rigorously to deliver information to students of all levels. Well framed ideas are first presented to students that are followed by discussion and summarizing of major points what was discussed in the class. Our major focus is to articulate both orally and in writing. We avoid superficial explanations for complex causes to environmental and spatial problems and use both lecture and practical methods to provide facts to students and help them assimilate delivered information critically. We require students to apply the knowledge, conduct research and present results in class and do a detail writing (essays and essay-type examinations). Our faculty members do not believe teaching begins and ends in the classroom alone.? We believe that effective teaching and mentoring must occur both inside and outside the classroom and in every meeting between faculty and students. Our faculty members also routinely organize conferences with students before and after classes.
Our faculty members supplement traditional lectures and readings with films, video clips, and computer-based presentations and overheads slides to emphasize issues and facilitate students understanding of complex topics. Our program puts emphasis on the student learning process where teaching and learning are considered as cooperative acts with the belief that faculty members not only impart knowledge but also prepare and motivate students to accept and learn skills for future life. We aim to equip students with the skills they will need to navigate their uncharted journey.
The geography considers teaching and research to be inseparable components of scholarship. Research helps faculty members to explore varied concepts with new ideas and concepts. Our faculty research has international dimension, and our teaching Geography has an international focus. Increasing global interdependence and particularly, recent increase in America's role as a "world leader" requires that we use approaches to teaching that expose students to a diversity of cultures, viewpoints and practices. In the introduction class, our faculty present contextual information about environmental and social problems and relate natural processes and human processes to the lives of the people all over the world. Our faculty members are committed to be actively involved in continuing scholarship in the discipline, make valuable contributions to the discipline, departmental. program and university communities, and help students acquire as much problem-solving and spatial analytical skills as they are able. Introductory courses like "World Geography and the Cultural Landscape” courses introduce students to the major geographic realms and regions of the world. In our discussion in the courses, we make side-trips into culture, economy, history, politics, current events, climate, and ecology. Such discussion is not only a core for geography majors, but also critical learning for other major students since it provides both comprehensive insights and practical details to build their ideas, creativities, and academic knowledge for their own major.
Our faculty members relate theoretical to the practical aspects by designing small research projects either with the entire class or small groups in all level of courses. Original research projects give students a chance to perform “real science,” which provide the students not only with a better understanding of what it means to be a geographer, but also a sense that they have contributed to our further understanding of how the planet works. With this process, students learn how to formulate a problem, decide on how to gather data, process the data and draw conclusions that they can apply to senior capstone projects or graduate work, should they chose to continue on. The Geography program believes that geography is lifelong learning subject, which helps a student to examine the world around using critical thinking and problem solving attitudes to unlock the complex meaning.