Developing a Writing Framework to Guide Students’ Writing in Geography, pp. 3 of 7

Neighbour (1992, 12) identified five Core Questions that govern the geography discipline:

  1. What is the phenomenon?
  2. Where is it located?
  3. Why is it located there?
  4. What impact does its location have?
  5. What changes should be made? What ought to be done?

With regular use, the core questions help to facilitate our students’ thinking on the geography topics / issues they are tackling. In a study conducted in Brisbane, Australia, Neighbour’s Core Questions were applied to a six-month unit of work called Australian Geographical Inquiries  (Fien, Cox and Fossey, 1984). All students in the class were directed to approach their inquiry through an application of the core questions of geography. It was reported that students readily embraced the core questions as the schema underpinning their inquiries (Neighbour, 1992). The students relied upon the questions to interpret incoming information which guided their reconstructions of the issues. Students used the core questions to help in the categorisation of data collected, organisation of their essays and as a scaffolding for assignments in other disciplines. The core questions also helped in facilitating information processing through the chunking of information.

The use of core questions further enabled the following to take place:

  1. Promotion of dialogue among students and teachers
  2. Clarification of the goals of the tasks
  3. Increase in students’ willingness to make adjustments to their inquiries based on their perceived adequacy of coverage of the core questions.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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