Learning Progressions, Paradigms, and Geographic Thinking in the Anthropocene


  • Thomas Barclay LARSEN Texas State University, Texas, USA
  • John HARRINGTON, Jr. Independent Scholar, Washington, USA


Learning Progressions, Paradigms, Geographic Thought, Possibilism, Anthropocene


Learning progression research has the capability to connect thinking in the education sciences and geography. Learning progressions provide a map of the various pathways that students take to master a topic. The aim of this paper is to illustrate significant conceptual ties between learning progressions and disciplinary geography. Two construct paradigms overlap to form an entryway between educational and geographic thought: constructivism from education and possibilism within geography. The learning progression method can form a bridge between the two paradigms. Learning progression research in geography depends on being able to answer two questions. First, which geographic concepts should be tracked? Given the ongoing changes in global human-environmental systems, priority could be dedicated to the topics that stimulate synthesis thinking about the human-environment relationship in the Anthropocene, or “Age of Humans.” Second, how should geographers track advancement in learning about human-environment concepts? Learning progression research provides a method to document multiple aspects of advancement in student learning. But, geographic learning does not exist solely in the confines of the classroom. Furthermore, school districts vary in the amount and quality of geography that they allow. New understandings would come from a mixed-methods approach that addresses geographic understandings by the lifelong learner in the context of both formal and informal geography education.