NOTE: The first five articles are solicited reviews of the manuscript Wanted: A Consise List of Neurologically Defensible and Assessable Spatial-Thinking Skills by Phil and Carol Gersmehl published in Volume 8, pages 5-38. The sixth article is the Gersmehl's response and comments to these reviews.
Reflections on Web-Based Inquiry Learning in Geography Classrooms in Singapore
Chang Chew Hung
Volume 9 (2007), Number 2, Pages 48-73
We often presume that when we engage a student in a web-based inquiry learning activity, the student will learn more effectively, become more motivated, and attain higher-order learning outcomes. To date, little empirical research has been published to confirm these assumptions. IN particular, web-based inquiry in the form of WebQuests™ is widely practiced by teachers in Singapore, largely due to a pervasive evangelistic movement by the educational technology branch in the education ministry. This article puts together reflections about the use of web-based inquiry in the Geography classroom based on some empirical findings. The empirical study which examined how students use the web for an inquiry-based learning activity was conducted within the framework of an activity system, which investigated how the student (subject) interacted with the web (tools) in the learning process (production) to generate the observed learning outcomes (object). This involved the views of teachers as stakeholders (community) and the way the students worked in a group (division of labour). The findings involved issues with student motivation, information seeking behaviour, web access, learning outcomes, cooperative learning, and views of stakeholders. Amidst the range of issues raised from the results, the findings do provide useful information on how future web-based inquiry learning activities, such as the use of WebQuest™ (Dodge, 1997), can be designed to better support teaching and learning in the Geography classroom.
The Relationship Between Content Preparation and Literacy of Science Teachers and High School Enrollment Size
William A. Porter, Thomas J. Rossbach, and Wayne L. Cornelius
Volume 9 (2007), Number 2, Pages 74-103
This study examines the relationship between teacher content preparation and literacy among high school earth science teachers and school size in the state of North Carolina. The results indicate that small schools have a relatively larger percentage of earth science teachers with no formal course training in this subject when compared to earth science teachers in large schools. Also, the results suggest a general trend correlating increasing school size with teachers who have completed a greater percentage of coursework in earth science. The findings show that teachers from smaller schools are especially deficient in their knowledge of selected geography and, to a lesser extent, geology concepts. Plate tectonics was the only concept studied where there was a significant difference between small and large size schools in teacher familiarity indices; earth science teachers from smaller schools were not as knowledgeable about this concept as their counterparts from larger schools. While no other significant statistical difference was found between school size and teacher preparation and literacy, in general small schools has both higher percentages of teachers with no completed course work experience in earth science as well as lower indices of familiarity among the selected concepts.
Keywords: teacher preparation, teacher literacy, earth science, school size
Inclusion of National Geography Standards in Mandatory and Voluntary State Curriculum Frameworks
Rachel Bailey and Rich Dixon
Volume 9 (2007), Number 2, Pages 104-123
Geography for Life promulgated the first set of national geography standards. This research investigates the assumption that national geography standards have the greatest potential for classroom integration in states that have a comprehensive geography component and a mandatory state curriculum framework. The study examines how well (10+ years later) those standards have been included in state curriculum frameworks. Results indicate that states are doing a poor job of including geography in middle school curricula with only seven states receiving acceptable scores on an inclusion metric. The study also identifies the specific standards that are focusing on a more regional approach to geography, focusing on one place at one time rather than taking a holistic approach to studying the distributions and processes of geography, both human and physical.
Keywords: Standards, Middle School, Curriculum Framework, Scope and Sequence
Oxford New Consise World Atlas, 2 ed. February 2007; 288 pages, hardcover; Oxford University Press, New York. ISBN-13: 978-0-19-532015-2.
Gersmehl, Phil (2005). Teaching Geography. The Guilford PRess. ISBN 1-59385-155-3 hardcover, ISBN 1-59385-154-5 paperback