Practicing physical geography: An actor-network view of physical geography exemplified by the rock art stability index

Casey D. Allen, Chris Lukinbeal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


This paper explores the use of a new pedagogy, the rock art stability index (RASI), to engender deeper understanding of weathering science concepts by students. Owing to its dynamic nature, RASI represents a quintessential actor network for weathering science, because it links task in the landscape with an active material practice and an alternative materialistic world-view recently called for in positivistic science, to create place. Using concept maps as an assessment tool, 571 college undergraduate students and 13 junior high school integrated science students (ages 12-13) were evaluated for increased learning potential between pre- and post-field experiences. Further, this article demonstrates that when students use RASI to learn the fundamental complex science of weathering they make in-depth connections between weathering form and process not achieved through traditional, positivistic weathering pedagogy. We argue that RASI draws upon inherent actor networks which allow students to link weathering form and process to an animate conceptualization of landscape. Conceptualizing landscape as sentient actor networks removes weathering science disciplinary connections and their inherent pedagogic practices. Our focus in this paper is not to challenge weathering ontology and epistemology, but rather to argue that there is a need for a pedagogical paradigm shift in weathering science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-248
Number of pages22
JournalProgress in Physical Geography
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • RASI
  • actor-network theory
  • fieldwork
  • philosophy of science
  • rock art stability index
  • weathering pedagogy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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