The Role of Geographical Investigations In Developing Students’ Cognitive Thinking, pp. 8 of 11

Secondly, all students showed deeper thinking in evaluation and creation after GI (corresponds to cognitive category 5 and 6 respectively in Fig. 1). In terms of evaluation, Molly and Weilin were able to offer further critique of the source’s findings with justification; this was linked to their conclusions on the reliability and validity of data (‘Critique’, ‘Justify’ and ‘Conclude’ are sub-categories of cognitive category 5 – ‘Evaluate’):

Molly: I feel that these 2 questions [‘How far are residents agreeable’ and ‘Whether residents would use the shuttle bus service’] are quite similar and redundant. Actually, if most people agree to the service, they will use it.

Molly’s critique of the usefulness of survey questions may have stemmed from her experience of crafting questions for the Transport GI questionnaire. Based on the questionnaire template provided by the teacher, students were required to state the purpose/relevance of each crafted question in answering the overarching GI question.

Furthermore, all students showed considerable improvement in their ability to propose ways to improve the reliability and validity of the source’s findings. This falls under the ‘Create’ category in Fig. 1 which has been recognised to be the most complex cognitive thinking skill. A greater variety of ideas were put forth by students to improve the source’s questionnaire. These suggestions not only extend beyond what was presented in the source, but also indicate student’s awareness of having a planned approach when administering questionnaires (‘Suggest’ and ‘Plan’ are subcategories under cognitive category 6 – ‘Create’):

Zack: ‘Ask them reasons about why residents disagree [to having the service] so that [the committee] can improve on it and more people will accept the idea.’

Keith: ‘Ask [the residents] how they feel about current transportation- is it sufficient? How [can we] improve the current transportation system? If they say it cannot be improved/there is no way to improve it, then maybe this shuttle bus service is useful and we can promote it to the residents.’ 

Zack and Molly expressed the need to ask residents why they disagreed with having the shuttle bus service. This possibly arose from the questions crafted for their Transport GI questionnaire which required respondents to provide reasons for their choice of numerical rating for the safety/comfortability of their train journey. Keith’s thoughts on gathering residents’ opinions about the existing transport system seem to be influenced by the questions crafted for the Transport GI questionnaire: They include asking commuters to rate Singapore’s public transport and suggest features they find necessary for public transport but have yet to be implemented. 

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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