An Analysis of Geographic Content in the Online Lesson Plans of the National Park Service
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Geography content in teaching materials is often overlooked, mislabeled as another subject, or generalized as social studies while ignoring the physical aspect of the subject. American educators generally do not recognize the breadth of geography because it is a subject in which they are often not familiar. This study used an interpretive content analysis of a sample of lesson plans from the U.S. National Park Service to measure geography content. The findings show that none of the sampled lessons included either national or state geography standards, although four independent coders and the researcher identified geographic content in 75% of the lesson plans. Categories chosen most frequently and least frequently are discussed and narrative examples that expose the content are given for each. The results show that the National Park Service is one organization that can improve the incorporation of education standards to include geography to accurately label the content of many lesson plans. Additionally, NPS should acknowledge environmental education’s natural tie to geography as the interconnection of human and physical systems. An argument is made that educators in the U.S. need a greater understanding of the subject of geography.