The Role of Geographical Investigations In Developing Students’ Cognitive Thinking, pp. 7 of 11

Firstly, all students demonstrated the ability to ‘compare’ and ‘attribute’ – cognitive skills in cognitive category 4 (‘Analyse’) outlined in Fig. 1 which were unapparent before GI. Students could compare findings of the source with their personal experiences during GI:

Keith: ‘Last time, I said that 30 people is too little to decide for the rest of the people living in Taman Jurong…but from the [GI] experience, I feel that asking 30 people is really difficult and time-consuming. Maybe the committee could send more people to conduct the survey over a longer period so that there will be more accurate results.’

After GI, students spontaneously related their experiences in the field to their analysis of key findings in the source. Keith and Weilin acknowledged the difficulties with data collection for the sample size stated in the source: Based on their GI experience, the group also surveyed 30 people and all asserted that they faced many rejections by the public which made the fieldwork less enjoyable. Cognisant of the difficulties in data collection, Keith proposed for the number of surveyors to be increased. The importance of surveying more people was still maintained by students as echoed by Weilin, who compared the purposes of data collection for the Transport GI with the source: The former was only used “to do a report”, whereas the latter was a “larger-scale [project] which uses funds”.

Apart from comparing their Transport GI experience with the source’s findings, Molly and Weilin provided deeper analysis of data after GI by attributing key findings presented to each other, instead of simply viewing findings as discrete: 

Molly: ‘I think that time is missing, because [the source] only said ‘Thursday afternoon (9th March)’, so they only interviewed people in the afternoon. Most adults will be working on a Thursday afternoon, so the people interviewed are mostly senior citizens or children coming home from school.’

Weilin:  ‘For those who strongly agree/agree, get the frequency that they would like the shuttle bus service to be. If the 30 people you ask do not take public transport that much, then they would not need the service, so even if you implement the service, there would not be much point.’

The connection Molly made between the time of conducting the questionnaire and ages of respondents seems to reflect her experiences of administering the Transport GI questionnaire: She mentioned “[our group] had to record down the time because it was on the [class questionnaire] template, so the teacher knows we are doing a fair test”. This suggests that the act of noting down the time which she conducted the survey (albeit made compulsory by the Geography teacher) indirectly led to Molly developing a deeper understanding of how the time of survey could influence the age profile of survey respondents and validity of results. Additionally, Weilin’s improved ability to analyse data appears to stem from her experience of crafting the Transport GI questionnaire: Her suggestion of obtaining information on the preferred frequency of the shuttle bus service mirrors her GI experience of crafting more specific questions to understand commuters’ idea of safety and comfort when using Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) journeys. The group had included a question which asked commuters about their MRT usage frequency in their GI questionnaire; this was not present in the standardised class questionnaire. Thus, it can be inferred that the group’s decisions on what questions to include in their GI questionnaire played a role in shaping their perception of the linkages among key findings of the source. 

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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