Undergraduate geographers' understandings of geography, learning and teaching: A phenomenographic study

John Bradbeer*, Mick Healey, Pauline Kneale

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


This paper uses phenomenography to identify undergraduates' conceptions of teaching, learning and geography and examine whether there are any differences between students in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. The paper shows that there are several distinct conceptions of teaching, learning and geography. Teaching is seen as either information transfer or as helping learning. The study finds that geography students hold five of the conceptions of learning found by Marton et al. (1993). Student conceptions of geography range from the very general such as the study of the world or the study or the distinct physical and human dimensions of the world to ideas of geography as people-environment interactions or as spatial organization or of areal differentiation and the study of places. There are no clear patterns of national variation in the conceptions held by geography students. The implications for teaching and curriculum design of undergraduates' conceptions of geography are considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-34
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Geography in Higher Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Geography
  • Learning
  • Phenomenography
  • Teaching
  • Undergraduate conceptions


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