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Applied Geography

Applied geography: a problem-solving approach.

Applied Geography is a journal devoted to the publication of research which utilizes geographic approaches (human, physical, nature-society and GIScience) to resolve human problems that have a spatial dimension. These problems may be related to the assessment, management and allocation of the world's physical and/or human resources. The underlying rationale of the journal is that only through a clear understanding of the relevant societal, physical, and coupled natural-humans systems can we resolve such problems.

The relevance of applied geography

For generations, academics - particularly social scientists - have openly debated the relevance of their research inclusive of applied research (see Council 1997; Moser, 2009; Rustow, 1971, National Research). While several scholars have attempted to define applied geography since the early 1900s (see Hogarth, 1921), Pacione (2011) defines it as “the application of geographic knowledge and skills to the resolution of social, economic and environmental problems” (p.10). Ideally, applied

Trends and convergences in applied geography

To understand the challenges facing applied geography and applied research, we believe it is useful to understand the observed trend towards techniques, technology, and theory that has come to fill the pages of this journal. Indeed, we acknowledge as editors and practitioners that we too, prioritized or festishized space (see Soja, 1980), cool visualizations, dense data clouds of cellular data, and the mapping of branded Tweets. However, these sorts of exercises do not necessarily improve the

Final thoughts

In order for applied geographies and Applied Geography to be more relevant, researchers need to continuously develop and improve specific pathways, strategies, and explicit interventions that (re)solve problems, inform public policy, and strive to change everyday practices and/or behaviors. The increasing focus on the application of statistical models (commonly applied to a new place or phenomenon) often overshadows the reason or the context in which these models are being applied. This

Applied geography in a digital age: The case for mixed methods

Rural food accessibility: an analysis of travel impedance and the risk of potential grocery closures, predicting plausible impacts of sets of climate and land use change scenarios on water resources, quantifying bank erosion on the south river from 1937 to 2005, and its importance in assessing hg contamination, modelling spatiotemporal land dynamics for a trans-boundary river basin using integrated cellular automata and markov chain approach, bluetooth tracking of humans in an indoor environment: an application to shopping mall visits, modelling the impact of urban growth on agriculture and natural land in italy to 2030, landscape, development, technology and drivers: the geography of drownings associated with automobiles in texas floods, 1950–2004, modeling the influence of social ties and transportation choice on access to oral healthcare for older adults, groundwater resources and quality in northeastern jordan: safe yield and sustainability, methodologies for change a critique of applied research in children's geographies, children's geographies, geographic patterns of diffusion in the 2011 london riots, desiderata for a definition; or is geography what geographers do, rural social-ecological systems vulnerability evolution and spatial-temporal heterogeneity in arid environmental change region: a case study of minqin oasis, northwestern china.

Theoretical and methodological approaches of social-ecological system's vulnerability provide a new perspective for the sustainable development of arid areas. However, the spatial distribution heterogeneity of internal elements of vulnerability has always been ignored in current academic research and policy practice. Especially in low-exposure but high-vulnerability areas, it is more urgent to explore the vulnerability-causing factors and construct the response capacity. Therefore, according to the concept of vulnerability and its internal element relationship, this study proposes an analysis method for the spatial-temporal heterogeneity of exposure risk and vulnerability. With the aid of GIS, while assessing the spatial-temporal evolution of the overall vulnerability of the Minqin Oasis since the comprehensive management of Shiyang River Basin, we pay more attention to the spatial-temporal heterogeneity of the internal elements of vulnerability. Then applying the stepwise regression and geographically weighted regression, the article further analyzed the intrinsic reasons for spatial-temporal heterogeneity of SES's vulnerability and exposure risk. The results are as follows. 1) The vulnerability in Minqin County from 2008 to 2016 was relatively low and showed an evolutionary trend of increased and then decreased. In addition, the vulnerability area was high in the Quanshan and Dam Districts and low in the Lake District; 2) the spatial-temporal heterogeneity of system exposure risk and vulnerability was significant and gradually reduced; and 3) the five main factors affecting spatial-temporal heterogeneity of the vulnerability of SES in Minqin Oasis include: per capita cultivated area, disaster-affected area, domestic water consumption, financial savings, and afforestation area. Finally, we proposed targeted recommendations for effective adaptive management and sustainable development for exposure-vulnerability heterogeneous regions.

The obesogenity of restaurant food: Mapping the nutritional foodscape of Franklin County, Ohio using food review images

Geographical research on the community food environment emphasizes the spatial dimension of food access, where food quality and nutrition are overlooked. While the nutritional quality of food stores can be evaluated by audit tools, such as the Nutrition Environment Measurement Survey series, these tools cannot be readily applied on a large scale. To aid in the nutrition assessment of the community food environment, this article proposes an innovative image recognition approach that identifies the nutrition information of restaurant food by crowdsourcing food images and retrieving their nutrition information in a case study of Franklin County, Ohio. As these food images are derived from food review websites, they represent consumers' actual dietary quality as a more direct, quantifiable measure of the community food environment. The derived nutrition information is applied for further analysis to characterize neighborhood obesogenity, referring to as factors in the built environments that facilitate the development of obesity. The proposed crowdsourcing-image recognition approach enriches the understanding of health inequities from a nutrition science perspective, which is beyond the tradition of food access in the spatial dimension only.

GIS-Fuzzy DEMATEL MCDA model in the evaluation of the areas for ecotourism development: A case study of “Uzundere”, Erzurum-Turkey

Ecotourism has become an integral part of the tourism sector for raising awareness of environmental protection, reducing the negative effects of tourism while using natural and cultural tourist attractions sustainably. The study primarily aims to determine suitable areas for sustainability approaches in the region regarding ecotourism and develop a comprehensive and reliable model in Uzundere. Various methodological approaches have been applied to develop ecotourism models, but certain deficiencies have emerged regarding spatial differences and criteria weighting. The proposed model applied the Geographic Information Systems and Fuzzy Decision Making Trial and Evaluation Laboratory Combined approaches such as Multi Criteria Decision Analysis approaches. The model was designed under 4 main groups and 16 sub-criteria. The ecotourism suitability map was analyzed through Weighted Linear Combination as highly suitable, suitable, moderately suitable and not suitable areas. Besides offering great opportunities in selecting suitable areas to be designated for ecotourism activities, this modeling provides advantages for accurate decision-making, planning, implementation and also conservation of the natural and socio-cultural environment. This study can facilitate the planning of the sustainable structure for ecotourism and the suitable areas determination in other areas with similar geographical conditions, with its applicable, reproducible and modifiable criteria structure.

Interactions between Geomorphology and Production Chain of High-Quality Coffee in Costa Rica

Using social media to measure and map visitation to public lands in utah.

We used nine years of geotagged social media posts uploaded to Flickr and Panoramio to investigate the ability of social media to measure and map spatial patterns in visitation to national parks, national forests, and state parks in Utah, USA. Our analysis shows support for the use of geotagged social media to supplement data collected through traditional means (e.g., on-site counts of visitors) as part of visitor use monitoring protocols. However, we did observe notable differences in the amount of variance in reported visitation explained by geotagged social media. Social media posts made within national parks and national forests captured substantially more of the variation in reported visitation relative to posts made within state parks. We attribute this to a variety of factors including the unique types of sites managed within the state park system, lower levels of visitation relative to national parks and forests within the state, and the method by which the state estimates visitation. We use exploratory spatial analyses to investigate spatial patterns of visitation across public lands. The analysis, performed at three different spatial scales (statewide, region, and county) illustrate the diversity of ways in which geotagged social media can inform outdoor recreation and tourism planning efforts and supplement traditional methods of measuring visitation. Our investigation demonstrates how social media can serve as a useful tool to inform proactive planning and management efforts.

Topological network and GIS approach to modeling earthquake risk of infrastructure systems: A case study in Japan

In this study, we propose a network-geographic information system (GIS) modeling framework to construct a risk map for revealing infrastructure vulnerability to seismic hazards. The framework considers the cascading network of interdependencies among the effects and intermediate effects of earthquakes. Network modeling is applied to analyze infrastructure vulnerabilities and identify the infrastructure types that are vulnerable to earthquakes, while geographical modeling is applied to identify seismic hazards in terms of ground motion intensity and earthquake source faults. Reported earthquake cases in Japan are selected for analysis, and an illustrative example of the modeling of a risk map is conducted on a section of a conventional train line in Japan. In the network modeling, statistics and network diagrams are developed to analyze the relational earthquake incident data. The results demonstrate that earthquakes can cause direct and indirect effects on infrastructure, and interdependencies can be found among the effects and intermediate effects. In the geographical modeling, probabilistic distribution is adopted to predict the seismic characteristics; the results reveal the intensity occurrence probability and cascading consequences of different earthquake intensities, and predict specific degrees of destruction. Infrastructure vulnerability and seismic hazard maps are developed according to the analyzed results. A risk map is then constructed by integrating the infrastructure vulnerability map with the seismic hazard map. This study characterizes the risk of earthquakes to infrastructures, capturing the complex interdependencies to reveal the cascading effects from earthquakes, and quantifying and demonstrating infrastructure areas vulnerable to seismic hazards.

Metropolitan migration and spatial housing markets: A geographical study in Melbourne

Metropolitan internal migration is an important process driving urban structure and settlement patterns. This research explores the geographical movement of metropolitan migration in Melbourne at a disaggregate spatial scale. Several spatially based techniques are employed, from which the complex patterns of migration are identified. The implications of migration movements for urban structure and infrastructure are also examined. This paper then links the migration flows to a spatial housing market analysis, and finds that urban variations in housing utility and housing prices are important factors influencing patterns of migration. In addition, new dwelling development programs generate new vacancy chains which shape residential migration toward outer urban areas. Drawing conclusions from this analysis, our research recommends more effective government approaches to fostering investment in housing-related infrastructure in Australian cities, and it discusses how broader policy and investment can align to drive settlement patterns which optimise productivity and liveability and minimise negative effects.

The role of accessibility for land use and land cover change in the Brazilian Amazon

Roads and infrastructure are fundamental preconditions for the large-scale conversion of natural forests into agricultural landscapes. Therefore, geographic differences in accessibility are critical for understanding land use and land cover change (LULCC) dynamics. As one of the most dynamic agricultural frontiers globally, the Amazon has much attention in LULCC research. While most studies account for roads and infrastructure, LULCC research often relies on one-dimensional measures of accessibility (e.g., Euclidean distances), which may not optimally represent the underlying latent variable concept. In this study, we demonstrate how alternative concepts and measures of accessibility (specifically travel time maps) can have considerably different explanatory value in the prediction of LULCC. We adopt a panel-data model to explain the geographical distribution of pasture and crop expansion in the Brazilian Amazon using land cover data and travel time maps generated with high-quality representations of existing official and non-official road infrastructure. Our approach's novelty consists of comparing travel time to different markets during the wet- and the dry season and their effect on the allocation of LULCC within a macro scale modeling approach. Our results suggest that (1) pronounced differences between wet- and rainy season accessibility (due to road quality) increase the likelihood of pasture expansion and reduce the likelihood for crops, and (2) that alternative measures of infrastructure access (e.g., to markets versus towns or processing facilities) can explain different socio-economic aspects of LULCC. Our findings suggest that bad infrastructure quality might severely limit the possibility of establishing a less land-intensive agricultural model in the Amazon and that LULCC research can significantly benefit from improved and context-specific measures of accessibility.

Exploring spatially varying relationships between Lyme disease and land cover with geographically weighted regression

Understanding environmental variables responsible for the spatial distribution of Lyme disease is essential for determining disease risk and directing control and prevention efforts. This study provides a novel application of geographically weighted regression to explore how the relationship between Lyme disease and land cover varies across the Midwest and Northeast regions of the United States. Results revealed that specific land cover types, namely deciduous forest, evergreen forest and agricultural land, are significant explanatory variables for predicting the location of Lyme disease incidence. However, contrary to previous studies, we show how these relationships vary within each region. The results from this study are important for informing Lyme disease mitigation efforts that have typically treated Lyme disease and land cover relationships as spatially static across this region. As such, we recommend that Lyme disease mitigation efforts not associate a high risk of Lyme disease with specific land cover types without understanding the larger geographic context influencing the presence and spread of the disease.

Heterogeneous housing choice and residential mobility under housing reform in China: Evidence from Tianjin

Chinese cities have changed from an egalitarian work unit based residential system toward a diversified housing estate-based neighborhood system under market-oriented reform and housing commercialization. It is important to understand the dynamics of residential mobility and the emerging pattern of the diversified new urban residential neighborhoods in Chinese cities. In this study, we examined the heterogeneity of intra-city residential mobility that resulted from diversity in households' demographics and variety in housing and neighborhood features after China's urban housing reform. The analysis and discussion are based on data from a face-to-face household questionnaire survey conducted in Tianjin. Using the K-Prototype clustering method we identify eight interesting patterns of residential mobility, which vary in households' social demographics, change of housing size and value, residential location choice, etc. The heterogeneity of residential mobility reveals the process of residential diversification and education induced gentrification. Economic status is an important factor in explaining residential diversification, and variation of public and commercial resources attached to places or housing is a key subjective driver for relocation. Heterogeneous intra-city residential mobility is changing urban residential neighborhoods.

All authors have held the role of Editor-in-Chief for the journal Applied Geography . Hoalst-Pullen is the current Editor-in-Chief (2015-present), Patterson was co-Editor-in-Chief from 2015 to 2018, and Gatrell was Editor-in-Chief from 2008 to 2015.

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Decision making, problem solving and mysteries

problem solving method in geography

Education should enable students to make sense of the world for themselves, to be critical of information, to enable them to participate in decision making and to promote their own social and intellectual development so that they can get more out of life and contribute more to society. Roberts, 2013

From this page you can explore:

Why are these activities important for geographical learning?

Managing decision making activities, decision making in gcse examinations, making animals activity, layered decision making, how to use mysteries, what are decision making and problem solving activities.

Decision-making and problem solving in geography are activities where an issue or question is identified and investigated. Geography teachers use these activities to provide real world contexts for students to apply and develop their knowledge and skills and develop geographical thinking.

Teachers put students in situations where they are required to evaluate alternatives and reach decisions. This helps students to engage with geographical issues and to gain a critical understanding of the kinds of evidence and skills used for decision making. Problem solving takes this further into implementing actions and evaluating the consequences. Mysteries are another form of problem solving that originated in the ‘Thinking through geography’ project.

Decision making and problem solving activities seek to challenge students, so they are put in a position where they have to think hard. While it is important that the context and scenario are not too complex for them to comprehend, it is valuable to give them tasks which are just beyond their present capabilities so they have to struggle a bit.

The Russian psychologist, Vygotsky, described this by the concept of the ‘zone of proximal development’ i.e. what a student can do on their own and if supported by more able peers or adults. Teachers should select appropriate decision making activities that aim to move students through the zone so they can work independently and move forward from what they can currently do with some support (see Learning theories and geography ). 

A significant part of the learning in decision-making and problem solving activities is in the analysis and reflection that students engage in as they weigh up the information provided to reach a conclusion. These activities are best tackled collaboratively so that several views and opinions have to be considered in making the decision and each person must explain their ideas clearly to their peers to make their case and justify their argument. 

Another way in which these activities contribute to good geographical learning is that by drawing in and synthesising elements from across the subject they broaden and deepen students’ understanding. They often involve looking at a problem or an issue holistically, therefore replicating the ways geographers think in real world situations. A careful choice of problem and context can mean that students must consider a wide variety of different geographies to reach a decision and must make links across the subject to do so.

Selecting the right geographical question or problem is important. Students need to have sufficient prior knowledge to tackle the problem and make decisions and the teacher must provide the necessary contextual material. Some examples are provided later on this page.

To make the geographical learning worthwhile, students need time to fully explore the problem, discuss ideas and struggle with challenging issues in the process of decision making. They need to have the opportunity to make sense of the information provided and think hard about the geography. These activities can extend over one or more lessons. A good decision making activity requires an investment in careful planning so it is important that sufficient lesson time is allocated to allow the activity to achieve its goals.

Consider carefully how you set up groups of students for a decision making activity. The students must work collaboratively and support each other if the strategy is to be successful (see Collaborative learning in geography ).

If you are using this type of activity with a class for the first time, you will need to consider what scaffolding to provide to help them tackle the process and manage the analysis of information and data on which to base their decision. This could be in the form of written guidance, or through class discussion and questions (see Scaffolding geographical learning ).

Model the process to help them understand that there are no certainties or ‘one right answer’ and how to justify what they decide. Show them the type of outcome you expect, such as reports written by other students, or provide a writing frame. Teachers need to monitor the activity to provide support or further information as necessary, but should not be too hasty to intervene and solve the problem for them!

Decision making activities are supposed to be challenging and you should give students the opportunity to show you what they can achieve. Do not shy back and set your expectations too low. What they can do successfully is highly dependent on their motivation and your thoughtful support. If they have good self-esteem and find the topic of interest to them, they will attempt most challenges you present to them. You need to establish the right classroom climate and build a relationship of trust where students feel supported, valued and their efforts are praised.

Planning your own decision making exercise

Develop an activity for yourself, including preparing the resources. (GIS offers excellent opportunities for developing decision making activities.) Then plan and teach the sequence of lessons.

Some ideas:

The current GCSE examination from AQA includes a paper on geographical applications with a section on issue evaluation. This contributes a critical thinking and problem-solving element to the assessment. A resource booklet is available in advance, including e.g. maps, graphs, diagrams, photographs, quotes from different interest groups etc. Students are expected to interpret, analyse and evaluate the information and issue(s) in the pre-release resources, make an appraisal of the advantages and disadvantages, and evaluate the alternatives.

This ‘thinking activity’ is concerned with planning and decision making allowing for particular constraints. One of the early versions was to design an animal, hence the title, but the activity does not need to include animals! The basic premise of the original activity was that students have to design an animal that would be adapted to live in a particular environment.

The constraints they had to think about are environmental factors and how animals can adapt to particular conditions. The idea can be applied to other situations where there are specific parameters. Nichols and Kinninment (2001) gives examples that includes topics such as natural regions, migration, a shanty town. This is a very flexible activity! (See Making Animals )

The three important characteristics of the generic strategy are:

Some hints on managing ‘Backpacking in Italy’

This was originally a thinking geography activity and it introduces more complexity into decision making activities so they are more realistic and challenging. Students are provided with the information and make decisions based on this. Then further information is introduced that changes the scenario so the decision must be reconsidered. This approached is useful for situations where there are complex or conflicting issues that need to be resolved, so students can be fed the information one stage at a time.

As layered decision making is more complex some students may struggle and need more support. In particular, as more information is introduced there is a risk of cognitive overload and students may have difficulty remembering all the factors involved, so ways to have this easily to hand is important. Students will need guidance in how to record information efficiently to help them make decisions. Debriefing needs to take place as you go along so that there is discussion on the first decisions before more complexity is introduced.

Mysteries are a form of problem solving, developed by David Leat’s Thinking through geography project in the 1990s, that was directly concerned with developing cognitive abilities through geography teaching. Students are provided with a range of ‘clues’ in order to explore possible explanations for a ‘mystery’ in which they have to solve a central question.

Effective mysteries often start by linking two seemingly unconnected elements and this approach helps to introduce a holistic dimension to the geography topic. Mysteries are challenging activities that provide opportunity for students to try out new information against the understanding they already have; this is an important for building schemas.

Students are given 16–30 pieces of information on individual cards and have to work collaboratively in small groups to solve the question. The problem solving in mysteries usually focuses on ‘cause and effect’ or classification. Students need to sort relevant information from irrelevant; interpret information; make links between disparate pieces of information; speculate and form hypothesis which they go on to check, refine and explain. The cards enable the statements to be moved about, so they can process and change their ideas.

Mysteries encourage students to deal with ambiguity. They must recognise there is no one right answer. They must determine whether the information on each card is relevant or not. The mystery should be very like real life! Ultimately the students should write in detail about the central question and should have some thoughtful geographical explanations. It is important to consolidate learning in this follow up activity and students should be encouraged to tell the story of the mystery and not just to repeat what was on the cards.

To create a new mystery from scratch requires a good deal of research and planning and it is best to use an example that has already been developed in the first instance. Check the chosen mystery includes the key concepts and ideas that you want to cover in the unit you are teaching.

Identify the necessary prior understanding that students will need to be able to understand the statements on the cards and the vocabulary. Plan to do some pre-teaching if necessary. Provide a good introduction to set the scene and provide the stimulus so that the students want to solve the mystery – they need to be motivated and persistent to puzzle it out or the strategy will not work. Stress the key question for the mystery at the start, and keep coming back to it.

Successful learning from a mystery depends on collaborative working. Students can have strongly held views and there can be dissent in the groups to cope with. Select the groups carefully with this in mind.

You should allow sufficient time for them to work through the problem. Advise students to sort the statements and discard the ones they do not think are relevant, but to keep checking on the discarded ones as they work. Watch out for any groups that are overwhelmed and start to go off task. Provide support but do not give them too much ‘help’ and resist the temptation to solve the question for them. When you intervene, aim to trigger their thinking to consider different strategies rather than give them the answers. 

Mysteries are an excellent tool for diagnostic and formative assessment. As groups work, observe how students handle the information, listen to their discussions and explanations and read their final product.

Debriefing is an important part of the activity (see Debriefing in geography ). Here you will analyse how they approached the tasks and what they found out. It is a good idea to start with feedback from a group with a reasonable, but challengeable, explanation and invite others to comment. Try to keep the ‘answer’ open for as long as you can so you can get discussion and debate to unpick the statements in detail.

When you have discussed the outcomes, move on to discuss how they approached the task. Did their ideas change during the task? How did their group operate? How did they resolve disagreements? (Se e Metacognition ).

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Many problems in the world today can be solved using the spatial problem solving approach.

Diagram showing numbered steps for the spatial problem solving approach

1. Ask and explore

2. Model and compute

3. Examine and interpret

4. Make decisions

5. Share your results

This description of the spatial problem solving approach is a simplification, in large part because problem solving isn't linear. The actual process will be much more involved. You will iterate, diagnose, and review as you gain new insights and understanding along the way, prompting you to rethink your approach.

Proceedings of the International Conference on Science and Education and Technology (ISET 2019)

Self-regulation and problem solving ability on geography basic knowledge materials using the 7e-learning cycle model.

Geography is a subject that requires a lot of visualization as a way of understanding. The use of methods such as problem solving and self-regulation are very essential in geography subject. Applying problem solving along with self-regulation can be done by implementing 7E-learning cycle for the sake of maximizing the way students learn. Unfortunately, the ability of some students in problem solving is still low. To overcome these problems, 7E-learning cycle is applied where the students optimize the way they learn and develop their reasoning through the learning stages of elicit, engage, explore, explain, elaborate, evaluate, and extend. This research aims to describe the initial conditions of self-regulation and the ability to solve geographic problems in basic knowledge of geography, test the effectiveness of learning with the 7E-learning cycle model, and describe the self-regulation by solving geographic problems in basic geographic knowledge material after the implementation of the 7E-learning cycle. This research uses quantitative methods and class X MA NU Nurul Ulum as the subject of this research. The independent variable in this study is the learning model, while the dependent variable is the problem solving ability and self-regulation. The data was carried out using proportion test, t-test, paired difference test, and normalized gain. The conclusion of this study is the initial conditions of students ‘selfregulation do not have specific strategies in learning and the initial conditions of students’ problem solving abilities are not familiar with high-level problem solving problems, learning with 7E-learning cycle is effective against selfregulation and problem-solving abilities, and after the implementation of the 7E learning cycle conditions the condition of self-regulation of students is accustomed to seeking help to support their learning and the problem solving ability of students can understand the problem to be more effective and re-examine the answer.

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