Play the field

5th March 2004 at 00:00
TITLE

COLLINS. Landmark AS Geography (2nd edition). By R Prosser, R Raw, V Bishop, G Miller. Price: pound;19.99. Tel: 0870 7871612. www.collinseducation.com

CONTENT

More emphasis on the interaction between the different elements of geography than some books; indeed, the weather and ecosystems material is integrated in one chapter. Most of the key AS topics are there, though some are less detailed than in other texts (eg there is relatively little on soils). There is an excellent, up-to-date section on the changing form of cities and some interesting case studies, for example suburbanisation in Beijing.

STUDENT ACTIVITIES

Plenty of quite straightforward short questions, and some more challenging ones which encourage discussion, the use of statistics and ICT. Substantial skills and techniques section at the end of the book.

DESIGN

Clear diagrams, including an effective example of photo manipulation to show up the structure of a butte, and good use of colour. Striking and plentiful images. Teacher's resources available.

VERDICT

*BEST BUY*

An up-to-date and well designed one-volume AS text. Best buy for bridging the gap between GCSE and A2.

TITLE

Geographical Association. Changing Geography (series edited by John Bale): Citizen, State and NationCountryside ConflictsDisability, Space and SocietyRegenerating. City CentresSportscapes. Price: pound;9.99. Tel: 0114 296 0088 www.geography.org.uk

CONTENT

One aim of this series is to close the gap between school and university geography, to include "concepts and ideas that tend to be excluded from conventional school texts". There is a lot of interesting geography here - eg regenerating city centres moves on from traditional land-use models to conceptualise the city centre as a "pizza". Countryside Conflicts includes material on the rural idyll and rural "others", and there is a fascinating section on golf pollution in Sportscapes.

STUDENT ACTIVITIES

The activities take the form of enquiries, sometimes involving fieldwork. These are interesting and challenging, but will require teacher mediation for some classes. The further reading list will be particularly useful for teacher reference or for those students hoping to continue with geography at university.

DESIGN

A series of slim volumes (40-60pages) with a modern design and a good number of maps, tables and photos. More text per page than some A-level books and language level is quite high - some students will need teacher support to access these texts, others will find them stimulating and stretching.

VERDICT

*BEST BUY*

A really interesting read. Best buy for updating your own subject knowledge and useful for extending higher attaining classes.

TITLE

Heinemann. AS Level GeographyA2 Geography (for AQA specification A). By A Bowen and J Pallister. Price: pound;19.99, pound;20.99. Tel: 01865 888 080 www.heinemann.co.uk

CONTENT

Seems well matched to this relatively traditional specification. Plenty of one- to four-page case studies in each chapter, including many old favourites plus some new ones, eg population change on Easter Island. Sections on geographical skills and exam technique.

STUDENT ACTIVITIES

Fairly frequent sets of comprehensionexplanation questions, plus occasional investigations. Some opportunities for extended writing in AS, essay titles in A2. A page of exam-style questions with mark allocation at the end of each chapter. A useful feature is the mark schemes at the end of the book, giving students immediate feedback.

DESIGN

Two fairly substantial volumes. Lively but not busy presentation, with well chosen photos. The main text font size is larger than average in the AS book, more standard in the A2. Shaded Information textboxes highlight key points.

VERDICT

Clear and effective presentation, well-tailored to the exam.

TITLE

Heinemann. Changing Environments (AS)Global Challenges (A2) (for Edexcel B specification). Edited by B Digby. Price: pound;18.50, pound;19.50. Tel: 01865 888 080. www.heinemann.co.uk

CONTENT

Supports the Edexcel B specification, excluding the A2 Global Futures modules. Particularly strong on case studies - it was a relief to see some more unusual choices, for example water resource management in the Murray-Darling basin and rural-urban issues in Malawi.

There were also some old favourites, such as the growth and development of Mumbai. Some chapters are presented through extended case studies.

STUDENT ACTIVITIES

Some short activities, often involving text restructuring, which would be useful homework tasks. Other activities require evaluation and personal reflection. Pair and group-work tasks are clearly explained and should encourage more active and engaged learning. Very occasional technique boxes give input on data collection and analysis.

DESIGN

Good variety of maps, photos and diagrams, plus clear use of colour to signal different sections. Format very similar in the two books. Teacher's resource file available.

VERDICT

A good core text for this specification. The AS book has more emphasis on extended case studies than the equivalent Longman text for Edexcel B.

TITLE

Hodder amp; Stoughton. Access to Geography (series): Arid amp; Semi-Arid EnvironmentsClimate and SocietyHazardsHuman Geography: Change in the UK in the last 30 yearsGlobalisationHealth and WelfareMigrationRivers amp; Water ManagementRural Settlement and the Urban Impact on the Countryside

Price: pound;7.25. Tel: 020 78736000 www.madaboutbooks.com

CONTENT

In some of the books, eg Hazards, the content comes over as a summary. In others, eg Globalisation and Health amp; Welfare, the core topics were developed in depth. Rural Settlement stood out as an excellent source, with really interesting nuggets, eg the role of Feng Shui in the location of Chinese rural settlement and a consideration of the rural image in film.

STUDENT ACTIVITIES

A set of questions at the end of each chapter, the format of which varies from book to book, including essay titles, structured questions, brief ideas for enquiries and data response exercises. There is a key-words section at the start of each chapter and summary (as bullet points or diagram) at the end.

DESIGN

The small format and well-designed front covers make for an attractive set of books, but the inside styling does not measure up, with no colour and relatively sparse photos and diagrams in some books. Structure and headings are clear but text on some diagrams is very small.@bold book review.

VERDICT

A concise and portable summary of key topics which forms a useful source of information for some modules (particularly rural settlement), but the lack of colour is a drawback.

TITLE

Hodder amp; Stoughton. Standalone titles: Managing EcosystemsNatural Hazards (2nd edition)People, Production and the EnvironmentPollutionSustainable. DevelopmentThe Urban Challenge. Price: pound;7.99 to pound;12.99. Tel: 020 78736000 www.madaboutbooks.com

CONTENT

This series generally manages to combine breadth and depth of content successfully, though some books are more comprehensive than others. Natural Hazards is particularly valuable for its discussion of hazards classification and extended case studies of hazard management, while Urban Challenge has some excellent map-based case studies.

STUDENT ACTIVITIES

A small section of student activities on most pages in most books: definitions, summaries, higher-level activities, research and essay titles.

Some are quite challenging and will encourage students to think. Two have short sections on study skills - writing a research essay (Natural Hazards) and examination preparation with sample questions (Pollution).

DESIGN

Each book is standard textbook size, which gives space for a variety of resources - maps, tables, photos and diagrams on each pair of pages. Mostly black and white but with occasional colour on maps and photographs - the student reviewers would have liked more colour. Clear visual signposting.

VERDICT

*BEST BUY*

May be a little demanding for some students, but a best buy for teachers and higher attaining students.

TITLE

Longman Changing Environments (AS), Global Challenge (A2) (for Edexcel B Specification. Edited by S Warn and M Naish. Price: pound;17.50. Tel: 0800 579579 www.longman.co.uk

CONTENT

Clearly linked to the Edexcel B specification, excluding the A2 Global Futures modules. Familiar case studies, some shorter, some longer (the latter including the Dorset coast).

Some excellent maps, eg in the section on rurality in Changing Environments, and a good variety of diagrams. Each main unit is followed by a glossary and helpful section of further resources, including websites.

STUDENT ACTIVITIES

A short section of activities on most pages, perhaps slightly more in the AS text. Some questions focus on summarising points or comprehension, but most encourage deeper engagement with the subject material. Occasional data response, decision-making and web research activities. A few tips on study skills such as effective web searching.

DESIGN

Colour-coding of units and clear signposting for activities makes these easy books to find your way around.

Colourful, generally well-sized graphics, reasonably frequent photos.

Format very similar in the two books.

VERDICT

Valuable as core texts if you've chosen this specification. Design is slightly livelier than the equivalent Heinemann texts for Edexcel B.

TITLE

Nelson Thornes. Geography: An Integrated Approach. By D Waugh. Price: pound;27.50. Tel: 01242 267 100. www.nelsonthornes.co.uk

CONTENT

The third edition is bigger than ever (657 pages) and addresses almost all A-level topics in detail, though content relating to some option modules is minimal. A greater emphasis on environmental management issues than the 1st edition. Short "places" case studies appear throughout the text, with an extended case study at end of each chapter. A series of "framework" sections give more detail on aspects of theory and research techniques.

STUDENT ACTIVITIES

No short questions within chapters, but one to three pages of AS and A2 exam-type questions with mark allocation at the end. These include data response, structured questions and essay titles and would be useful for homework and revision. There are suggestions for extended tasks relating to key skills and two short decision-making exercises.

DESIGN

Contains a greater proportion of text than some, but also makes good use of graphics. Coloured pages and textboxes signal certain types of section, and the relatively extensive index includes a helpful colour-coding system for geographical terms, places and people.

VERDICT

**BEST BUY*

Exam-format questions and colourful design were popular with students. Best buy for comprehensive and detailed coverage of the traditional core.

TITLE

Nelson Thornes. Essential AS Geography. By SRoss, J Morgan and R Heelas. Price: pound;23.75. Tel: 01242 267 100 www.nelsonthornes.co.uk

CONTENT

Covers the core topics for AS plus field investigation. Plenty of short and more detailed case studies - eg the coastal landforms section has an extended focus on the Dorset coast. Covers the theory traditionally used at A-level, but good to see some newer ideas too, eg a model of post-modern urbanism in the urban environments chapter.

STUDENT ACTIVITIES

Sections on study and exam skills with examples. Three types of activity - noting, structured data response questions and extended activities involving research and writing, some based on use of ICT. Making the nature of each type of activity explicit will help students adjust to new expectations.

DESIGN

The cover is uninspiring, but the materials are lively inside - well-sized coloured diagrams, clear visual signposting for activities and well-chosen photographs, some with the wow! factor.

VERDICT

Detailed content and worthwhile learning activities - this text was praised by student and teacher reviewers alike.

TITLE

Nelson Thornes. EPICS (series). Cold EnvironmentsStates of Health and WelfareThe Geography of Sport amp; Leisure (other titles available). Price: pound;8.75. Tel: 01242 267 100 www.nelsonthornes.co.uk

CONTENT

Clear presentation of key ideas.

Plenty of case studies, many of which are quite brief. States of Health and Welfare includes some interesting topical issues and some of the questions encourage a personal response to these. Most pairs of pages have at least one diagram or map and there is a small number of photographs.

STUDENT ACTIVITIES

The text is interspersed with short review questions, which would provide opportunities for consolidation, perhaps as part of homework. There is also a series of research tasks, some of which encourage internet use, and some data response exercises.

DESIGN

Exercise book size with a two-colour cover and black and white inside. Structure is well signposted and diagrams are clear, but some colour photos would have livened things up.

VERDICT

A useful source of information for some modules, but you would have to work quite hard to get students excited about the material.

TITLE

Oxford University Press. Advanced Geography. By G Nagle. Price: pound;28.50. Tel: 01536 741 171 www.oup.co.uk

CONTENT

Covers all key A-level topics, but you would need supplementary material for some option modules. Aspects of economic geography were particularly up-to-date, eg a good discussion of JIT production and the Asian financial crisis, plus a helpful summary of models relating to tourism. "Surgeries" explain more challenging theories and "seminars" examine key issues and controversies - a good idea, but the seminars could go further in pointing out the contested nature of some topics.

STUDENT ACTIVITIES

Short questions, mostly comprehension, are distributed through the text, plus a page of ASA2 style questions at the end of each chapter. A summary table in each section links content to specifications, and skills sections cover topics such as essay writing and using statistics.

DESIGN

Fewer photos than some core texts but a large number of clear diagrams. Good use of colour and textboxes to break up the page and signal key features. The author also wrote the revision guide Advanced Geography through diagrams and similarities in design here. Student reaction generally positive.

VERDICT

A good buy for a single-volume core text. Clean design which some students may find more accessible than the Nelson Thornes equivalent.

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