Developing a Writing Framework to Guide Students’ Writing in Geography, pp. 5 of 7

Both qualitative and quantitative data were collected from a class of 18 Sec 5 NA students in a secondary school. The data collected included:

  • Pre- and post- tests to observe the effect of the Writing Framework on the quality of students’ Geographical writing. The tests centred on students’ ability to answer 8-mark Level Descriptor Questions with similar question stems focused on the geographical concepts of place and space. For example, students were asked to answer questions like “Tsunami monitoring and warning systems have greatly reduced impacts from tsunamis.” To what extent is the statement true? Give evidence to support your answer and “Land use regulations have greatly reduced impacts of earthquakes.” To what extent is the statement true? Give evidence to support your answer. Between the two tests, the students were guided on the use of the Writing Framework, with a focus on the geographical concepts of ‘Space’ and ‘Place’ - where the phenomenon is located and how the characteristics of the location affect the outcome of the phenomenon.
  • A pre- intervention survey to understand the problems students had in answering Level Descriptor Questions, and their awareness of the usefulness of the concepts of ‘Space’ and ‘Place’ in answering the questions. A post-intervention survey was conducted to gather students’ feedback on the usefulness of the Writing Framework, and whether they were more aware of using geographical concepts in their writing.

The research team reviewed the quality of the students’ answers through a standardization exercise to ensure consistency in the marking

Findings and Discussion

The research suggests that the Writing Framework was useful in helping students answer the Level Descriptor Questions. All students showed an improvement in their scores of between 1 to 4 marks. The majority of the students (65%) indicated that they found the Writing Framework useful. For example, students commented that

 It helps me to give a more elaborated answer and to be able to know what is needed to be written in the answer.

The Writing Framework guides me well in knowing what to write in each paragraph, and it helps me to be able to answer well too.

In addition, 75% of the students agreed that the Writing Framework had raised their awareness of the need to use geographical concepts to support their answers, while 60% of students felt they were better able to use geographical concepts in explaining their answers.

The study therefore suggests that this particular group of students benefitted from using the Writing Framework to help them scaffold their answers. It especially heightened their awareness in using the concepts of ‘Space’ and ‘Place’ in their writing. It provided students with a structure within which they could concentrate on communicating what they wanted to say. The survey results also showed that the Writing Framework helped students to analyse and rationalise their choice of evidence and the students used the writing framework to perform a self-check on their answers.

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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