Book cover for Learning on Location: Place-Based Approaches for Diverse Learners in Higher Education by Ashley J. Holmes. Series on Engaged Learning and Teaching
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ISBN: 9781642674217

November 2023

Chapter 1 makes the case for learning on location as a valuable framework and approach to teaching and learning in higher education. Learning on location complements engaged teaching and high-impact practices (HIPs), deepening student learning by rooting their experience within place. This first chapter provides brief snapshots of what learning on location looks like in different courses, programs, and campuses. The chapter invites readers to think about their relationship to places, exploring how structures can make faculty and students feel rootless in higher education. Highlighting the intersections of place, teaching, and learning, the chapter prompts readers to become more rooted within their institutions and communities by (re)considering the pedagogic potential of local sites, public places, and civic spaces. A learning on location framework calls on educators to remember that campuses are located within specific places and to see those locations as resources within engaged learning practices.

Discussion Questions

  1. View the photograph of the mural by Hosea Williams (Figure 1.1) or select from your hometown a mural or work of public art. Set a five-minute timer and free-write using the following prompt: What comes to mind when you see this image? You could describe things you see; reactions you have to what you see; questions you have; hypotheses—whatever comes to mind. Next, find a partner or small group to discuss what you think the image’s message is and what it communicates to viewers and passersby. Use this reflective writing and discussion activity to brainstorm unique sites within your locale that might connect with your courses or programming. How might we draw inspiration for developing location-based learning from public locations on or near our campuses?
  2. The Introduction features three snapshots of learning on location: 1) mini-ethnographies in an Anthropology course; 2) student-generated maps of their undergraduate research journey; and 3) an oral history project that documents and archives student, alumni, and community members’ stories. Which of these approaches resonates with your value and interest in learning on location? Why?