Department of Geography


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Research profile of the department

The aim of the Department of Geography is to provide scientists, academics, experts working in state and non-state institutions, and motivated teachers with quality scientific research in the field of Geography Education. The thematic focus can be summarized in terms of following research areas:

  1. Geography curriculum.
  2. Innovations, trends, actors, factors, processes and outcomes of Geography Education.
  3. Training and professionalization of pre-service and in-service geography teachers at all levels and types of schools and other educational institutions (e.g., environmental education centres).

Currently, the Department of Geography’s research focus is in three research groups of basic and applied research. In the field of basic research, the research groups are investigating two themes:

  1. Initial geography teacher education and the professional development of geography teachers (Group Leader: Petr Knecht).
  2. Outdoor education across school subjects (Group Leader: Hana Svobodová).

In the field of applied research in Geography Education (Group Leader: Darina Mísařová), the research focus covers three themes:

  1. Implementation of outdoor education in primary school teaching.
  2. Implementation of geoinformation technologies (GIS, 3D printing) in teaching in primary schools.
  3. Development of educational materials promoting the idea of sustainability.

The department has two other emerging lines of inquiry: research on textbooks and school curricula, and research in primary geography.

Research management

The research is managed at the level of the Head of Department and research group leaders. Each of the above-mentioned research areas is managed by a research group leader who has a long-standing profile in the area in terms of publications, writing grant applications, and popularization (outreach).

Each research group consists of senior and junior scholars, and doctoral, master’s and bachelor’s students. Doctoral students are involved in all of the above areas, and, as team members, are involved in related grant projects. Dissertation topics are carefully selected in relation to the research profile of the department. It has long been successful in linking dissertation topics to the research projects carried out at the department, especially the research group focusing on outdoor education.

The policy of the Department of Geography is to publish in prestigious international journals in Geography Education. The faculty regularly publish in the top three international journals in the field of Geography Education (Journal of Geography, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education). There are also other emerging journals in the field that need to be respected as recognized and high-quality publishing platforms (e.g., Journal of Geography Education - Germany, and Journal of Research and Didactics in Geography - Italy).

Research outcomes in the area of ITE and the professional development of geography teachers

We developed an assessment tool for exploring conceptions of geography teaching as part of a previous project funded by the Czech Science Foundation (GA ČR 18-08315S; 2018–2020) and verified its psychometric characteristics on a representative sample of Czech in-service teachers and future geography teachers. Furthermore, a recent applied research project (TA ČR TL05000033; 2021–2023) developed an online form of the assessment tool to identify the prevailing conceptions of geography and geography education among pre-service and in-service teachers of geography. Consequently, we organized two workshops and a webinar to confirm whether or not Catling's original theory is acceptable in the Czech environment and comprehensive to geography teachers. The complete version of the assessment tool was published in the flagship journal of the Committee on Geographical Education of the International Geography Union (IRGEE, cf. Knecht & Spurná, 2022, advanced online publication: see below).

Knecht, P., & Spurná, M. (2022). Does specialization in geography teaching determine teachers' conceptions of geography teaching? International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 1-18.

Knecht, P., Spurná, M., & Svobodová, H. (2020). Czech secondary pre-service teachers' conceptions of geography. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 44(3), pp. 458-473.

Svobodová, H., Spurná, M., & Knecht, P. (2020). The perspectives of geography and geography teaching in secondary pre-service teachers in Czechia. Geografie, 125(4), pp. 501-526.

Research outcomes in the area of outdoor education

Outdoor education has long been considered a powerful teaching strategy in understanding today's world. Outdoor education, which is also firmly established in Czechia, fosters different kinds of skills in pupils, mainly related to practical activities in the countryside, and, in essence, permeates the entire curriculum of primary and secondary school. The topic covers: 1) analyses of the embedding of outdoor education (with a focus on the subject of geography) in primary and secondary school curricula; 2) a comparison of the benefits of traditional classroom teaching and outdoor education on the development of pupils' problem-solving competences and physical activity; and 3) based on the findings, a proposal for an optimal system of organization of outdoor education for all grades at each level of primary and secondary education.

Svobodová, H., Durna, R., Mísařová, D., & Hofmann, E. (2021). A proposal of a concept of outdoor education for primary and lower secondary schools – the case of the Czech Republic. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 21(4), pp. 336-356.

Svobodová, H., Mísařová, D., Durna, R., & Hofmann, E. (2020). Geography outdoor education from the perspective of Czech teachers, pupils and parents. Journal of Geography, 119(1), pp. 32-41.

Svobodová, H. (2019). Outdoor Education in Geography: A Specific Educational Strategy. Masaryk University Press.

Research outcomes in the area of applied research in Geography Education

Applied research in Geography Education focuses on developing comprehensive handbooks and other practical materials for pre-service and in-service teachers. Two key themes are developed: outdoor education and geoinformation technology. Although outdoor education and geoinformation technology is considered a powerful teaching strategy for understanding today's world, there is still no comprehensive system of implementation of outdoor education and teaching with GIS in Czechia to help teachers to implement it conceptually in school subjects and grades of primary and secondary schools, both in terms of forms of outdoor education and in terms of content, including the integration of subjects and cross-cutting themes. Applied research in Geography Education also covers publications and sub-projects in curriculum development and analysis, textbook development, and teaching materials development (including 3D printing).

Mísařová, D., Svobodová, H., Mašterová, V., Durna, R., Hercik, J., Šimáček, P., ... & Kubíček, P. (2021). Koncepce rozvoje geoinformačních dovedností ve výuce na základních a středních školách [The concept of developing geoinformatics skills in teaching at primary and secondary schools]. Munipress.

Balák, I., Hofmann, E., Svobodová, H., Durna, R., Kolejka, J., Tichý, Š., & Zubalík, J. (2020). Moravský kras a okolí [Moravian Karst and its Environs]. Munipress.

Svobodová, H., Mísařová, D., Durna, R., Češková, T., & Hofmann, E. (2019). Koncepce terénní výuky pro základní školy [Concept of Outdoor Education at primary and secondary schools]. Munipress.

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