Grace Healy

Subject Specialist in Geography


Leveraging real-world experts and GIS: moving beyond engaging with technology and towards a focus on powerful geographical knowledge

While geographic information systems (GIS) are increasingly being used in geography classrooms, there are some challenges resulting from GIS being enshrined in the prescribed curriculum as a skill to be ticked off and the technology detracting from geographical learning. Based on initial findings of students’ perceptions of the value and nature of GIS, it is apparent that they do not fully grasp the significance of GIS to their studies or to geography more broadly. In response to this, we have undertaken longitudinal research to explore how a programme of GIS integrated within a two-year A-Level examination course, develops students’ perceptions of the value and nature of GIS and its impact on their geographical knowledge. This session will report on one strand of the research focusing on how using real-world, industry experts can affect students’ perceptions of the relevance of GIS to geography and support their acquisition of geographical knowledge. As part of this session, the research base that exists around pedagogical approaches to GIS, the capacity for GIS to develop students’ geographical knowledge, and the place of partnerships between the school classroom and real-world experts will be explored. This session is highly relevant to geography educators but might be of wider interest to those thinking about partnerships with industry experts or navigating difficulties associated with technology detracting from, rather than enhancing, learning in their classroom.


Grace Healy is Subject Specialist in Geography at the Inspiration Trust. She is an active member of the geography education community and holds positions on the Post 16 and HE phase committee and the Assessment and Examinations Specialist Interest Group of the national Geographical Association. She is also pursuing a Professional Doctorate in Education at the University of Cambridge.