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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2013

Are teachers and students ready for the new middle school geography syllabus in Sweden? Traditions in geography teaching, current teacher practices, and student achievement

Molin, Lena; Grubbstrom, Ann


The article examines the relationship between selective traditions in geographical education, what middle school teachers choose to emphasise in geographical education, and student achievement. The study, conducted in Sweden, is based on observations made by students in teacher training programmes, interviews with teachers, and analyses of a test administered to middle school students. It shows that selective traditions in geographical education are strong, resulting in a focus on country-related knowledge and map-reading skills. Both teachers and students seem unclear about what other subject-specific skills geography teaching provides. Furthermore, students have difficulty achieving a high level of geographic reasoning. The authors argue that a subject-specific language in geography is important in both teaching and assessment. They stress that students need more practice in geographic reasoning, since this is required by the new curriculum and in the national test in geography for Year 6 (i.e. pupils in the age range 12-13 years). The study adds to earlier research by highlighting Swedish middle school teaching, which is a neglected field within curriculum studies, and by using a combination of methods to analyse the impact of selective traditions.


geography teaching; middle school; selective traditions; subject didactics; subject skills

Published in

Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift / Norwegian Journal of Geography
2013, Volume: 67, number: 3, pages: 142-147

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