Teaching Geography in Higher Education: A Case Study of Problem-Based Learning

Hakan KOÇ

Sivas Cumhuriyet University, Sivas, TURKEY


Geography Instruction, Problem-Based Instruction, The Upper Kızılırmak Basin, Action Research ,


This article aims to investigate problem-based learning in teaching geography in higher education. In addition to the main goal, the research set out to introduce a practical study that can facilitate graduate students’ academic research skills. The study was conducted using action research. Findings obtained from qualitative interviews and the observations produced the following results: The reason why problembased geography instruction has not found much room in Turkey is mostly due to extensive use of traditional teaching methods in such as lectures. As a matter of fact, the participants reported that they initially had difficulty in getting accustomed to problem-based geography instruction. The most important factor in the challenges they experienced was related to the fact that they were not used to teaching methods that are characterized by inquiry-based teaching strategies (problem-based learning, projectbased learning and so forth). This study aimed not only to investigate how problem-based geography instruction can be utilized in higher education institutions and but also to support the development of graduate students’ academic research skills. It essentially investigated the reasons for failure in using the water of the Kızılırmak in the Upper Kızılırmak Basin located within the borders of Sivas, a province in Middle Anatolia, for agricultural irrigation. Analysis of the interview transcripts revealed that that this process positively contributed to their self-confidence and the development of their academic research skills by taking responsibility. Their responsibilities included collecting data from primary sources in the field and secondary sources in relevant institutions and analyzing these data and interpreting the findings. This process helped them to associate theory and practice.