Within this post we will be looking into: vital skills, attitudes and values and how these are fundamental within Geography, what is the correlation between teacher subject knowledge and student learning and achievement and finally the implications of this research for my practice as a pre-service, then practicing, teacher.
Vital skills, attitudes and values and how these are fundamental to the Geography subject:
The National Geographic Society (Downs & Gallagher Heffron, n.d.) provides five key skills that allow students and teachers to be successful within the Geography subject, which are as follows:
Asking Geographic Questions:
Through this skill, students pose example questions of where is it located, why is it there and what is the significance of the location? Through inquisitive questions student are able to gain more of an understanding of the topic they are researching. Students gain the ability to help increase special reasoning skills, identify geographic issues and problems and make informed decisions that lead to actions. (Downs & Gallagher Heffron, n.d.1)
Acquiring Geographic Information:
Students acquire data one of two ways, through primary sources (field work, i.e excursions) and secondary sources (research). Undertaking field work nurtures student interest by stimulating the senses through physically being at and within a location collecting physical samples, photographs and so on for use at a later time, such as for assessment pieces. Through this data collection and research, student capacity for being able to effectively gather material for assessment or the construction of reports is greatly benefited. (Downs & Gallagher Heffron, n.d.2)
Organizing Geographic information:
Although gathering data is one topic, organizing them into categories is another altogether. Through this organization of information students are able to easily recall, acquire and display within documents or computer files such as a geographic information system.
(Downs & Gallagher Heffron, n.d.3)
Analyzing geographic information:
These skills teach students how to effectively analyse, interpret and create patterns within the data and research findings. Students also need to be able to manipulate raw data into manageable and useable appearances. After effective analysis, students are then able to efficiently create effective responses to posed questions. (Downs & Gallagher Heffron, n.d.4)
Answering Geographic questions:
As with all academic studies, geography requires well written, articulated, structured and complex answers/ assessments. In order to accomplish this, it is a necessity that students need to acquire skills that allow them to effectively communicate data and research findings that is clear and concise. Students need to be able to present their findings through various means, such as written and spoken formats. Teachers should also be encouraging students to find various means of presenting their information, multiple points of views and various solutions to problems. (Downs & Gallagher Heffron, n.d.5)
Correlation between teacher subject knowledge and student learning:
Our next topic of discussion is that of the correlation between teacher subject knowledge and student learning. It must be stated that if a teacher knows the content of a subject they should be able to convey this information to students to better student learning, however it is one thing to know the content, but to be an effective educator means greater student achievement. Instead of looking at teacher subject knowledge, we will discuss teacher quality and the influence on student achievement. A paper by Laura Goe, Ph.D. and Leslie M. Stickler (Goe & Stickler, 2008) describes that teacher quality stems from four categories: teacher qualifications, teacher characteristics, teacher practices and teacher effectiveness. In regards to qualifications, not only should teachers have the proper education in the teaching practice but also be engaging within professional development to further improve practices along with inductions and peer feedback. Characteristics of a teacher are not right or wrong but should be seeking the best for the students through methods that inspire students to improve and be the best they possibly can. The teacher practices portion describes how Teachers align instruction with assessment, communicate clear learning objectives and expectations for the students. It is stated this is done via providing intellectual challenges, allow students to explain and question and monitor student learning through formative assessment (Goe & Stickler, 2008).
Implications as a beginning Teacher:
As an individual reading through the vital skills required for the geography subject has given ideas as to how to adopt these skills into regular practices to enhance student understanding of each task they come across through various means of critical thinking and collaboration. Being an effective Teacher is always going to be on the mind of every upcoming Teacher, learning how to convey information effectively, inspire students to be active members of the class and strive to achieve the best they can will always be a challenge as each student is different. However, through engaging with teaching peers, attending professional developments and inductions should set the first few years of teaching for success.
Downs, R. & Gallagher Heffron, S. Geographic Skill 1. Nationalgeographic.org. Retrieved 28 August 2016, from http://nationalgeographic.org/geographic-skills/1/ 1
Downs, R. & Gallagher Heffron, S. Geographic Skill 2. Nationalgeographic.org. Retrieved 28 August 2016, from http://nationalgeographic.org/geographic-skills/2/ 2
Downs, R. & Gallagher Heffron, S. Geographic Skill 3. Nationalgeographic.org. Retrieved 28 August 2016, from http://nationalgeographic.org/geographic-skills/3/ 3
Downs, R. & Gallagher Heffron, S. Geographic Skill 4. Nationalgeographic.org. Retrieved 28 August 2016, from http://nationalgeographic.org/geographic-skills/4/ 4
Downs, R. & Gallagher Heffron, S. Geographic Skill 5. Nationalgeographic.org. Retrieved 28 August 2016, from http://nationalgeographic.org/geographic-skills/5/ 5
Downs, R. & Gallagher Heffron, S. The Importance of Geographic Skills. Nationalgeographic.org. Retrieved 28 August 2016, from http://nationalgeographic.org/geographic-skills/
Goe, L. & Stickler, L. (2008). Teacher Quality and Student Achievement: Making the most of Recent Research (1st ed., pp. 2-8). Washington D.C: National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED520769.pdf