I had a whole range of answers to this question come flooding out:
- Contexts that students find relevant to their lives
- Changes each year depending on class interests – some years I have had big groups who are incredibly interested in environmental issues, other years groups that just want to do more physical geography
- A common theme is that students need to see the authenticity of the content to be studied (this is fairly easy in Geography in my opinion), that is students want to see the real world relevance – that it is not just some made up problem
- Something provocative that brings an emotive tug to what will be studied
Then I started thinking more and remembered a conversation that I had in my department last week. We were discussing results of students in exams and how many in the department consider themselves “physical geographers” but our students seem to do better in the “human” papers – Population Studies, Development Inequalities etc. This has been a common theme over a few years so is there something in these papers that particularly engages the students?
What aspect of your Geography course do students find most engaging?
Why do you think this is?
Do you regularly ask your students in a manner in which they can be completely honest?