The Role of Geographical Investigations In Developing Students’ Cognitive Thinking, pp. 6 of 11

Furthermore, all students demonstrated some form of higher-order thinking when evaluating the source (corresponds to cognitive category 5 in Fig. 1) and suggesting ways to improve the reliability of data (a sub-category of cognitive category 6 – ‘Create’). They offered their own conclusions on the reliability of the source. All critiqued that the number of residents interviewed was too few by justifying that the source’s questionnaire was for a larger-scale study (‘Conclude’, ‘Justify’ and ‘Critique’ are sub-categories of cognitive category 5 in Fig. 1). This led them to suggest for more residents to be interviewed:

Weilin: ‘I think 30 residents is too little. They only interviewed residents from Blocks 351, 353 and 356. What about others living in the area? They should also gather [data] from other blocks.’

Only Molly and Weilin could suggest (with justification) more ways to improve the reliability and validity of survey results: Molly highlighted how she wanted to know more about the age distribution of residents surveyed, suggesting possible age groups (elderly, teenagers, working adults) that were interviewed. She also proposed for more of the target audience to be surveyed. To her, the target audience refers to teenagers and working adults as these are the people who would use the shuttle bus service. Whereas for Weilin, she critiqued the day and time which the survey was conducted, proposing to change the frequency and period of data collection.  

Based on the data findings, existing differences were observed in students’ lower-order and higher-order cognitive skills before GI: While all students understood the geographical data from their ability to summarise the source (coincides with cognitive category 2 in Fig. 1), Molly and Weilin were more proficient in interpreting and explaining findings (‘Summarise’, ‘Interpret’ and ‘Explain’ are sub-categories of cognitive category 2 – ‘Understand’). In relation to higher-order thinking skills, all students showed some ability to evaluate (corresponds to cognitive category 5 in Fig. 1) by drawing conclusions regarding the reliability of the source and offering justifications for their critique of the source (‘Conclude’, ‘Justify’ and ‘Critique’ are sub-categories of cognitive category 5 – ‘Evaluate’). They also were able to suggest improvements to the source (a sub-category of cognitive category 6 – ‘Create’). However, Molly and Weilin provided a stronger critique of the data and proposed more ways to improve findings, as opposed to Keith and Zack whose responses were more limited. Hence, it can be inferred that Molly and Weilin were better able to understand, evaluate and provide suggestions to improve the reliability and validity of data compared to Keith and Zack.

Students’ Cognitive Abilities after GI

After GI, all students continued to demonstrate lower-order cognitive thinking skills in cognitive category 2 (‘Understand’). They showed significant improvement in higher-order cognitive thinking, albeit to different extents. This improvement came in two forms: All students showed a development in higher-order thinking skills which was not evident prior to fieldwork. Also, all students exhibited deeper thinking at specific higher-order cognitive levels.  

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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