The Role of Geographical Investigations In Developing Students’ Cognitive Thinking, pp. 9 of 11

Additionally, the need for more specific survey questions was raised (‘Construct’ is another sub-category under cognitive category 6 – ‘Create’):

Weilin: ‘They mentioned that some key concerns raised by the residents are the location of stops and the frequency. I think if they set the location and set the frequency and ask the public again, you can get more specific feedback.’

Molly: ‘Ask [residents] about what features they expect the peak hour shuttle bus service to have. For example, do they want the bus to be able to accommodate 30 people? Or 10? Ask whether they want any additional features to make their journey more enjoyable (like it is safer and more comfortable).’

Weilin’s proposition to fix the locations and frequencies of the shuttle bus service has followed from her experience of crafting more specific questions for the Transport GI questionnaire (respondents were asked to rate their opinions of the safety/comfortability of the train journey based on a specific set of features). As for Molly, she wanted to ask residents about their expectations relating to the features of the shuttle bus service. She also hoped to find out if residents wanted any features to make their journey safer/more comfortable. While the Transport GI question was already known to students prior to fieldwork, Molly did not offer recommendations to the source’s questionnaire with reference to the terms used in the Transport GI question (‘features’, ‘safe’ and ‘comfortable’). This supports Mackenzie and White’s (1982) assertion that active participation in fieldwork enhances students’ ability to relate their field experiences with existing knowledge: In this case, Molly ascribed greater meaning to the terms mentioned in the Transport GI question after fieldwork.  

Based on the data findings, it was observed that all students demonstrated enhanced cognitive thinking with regard to analysis and synthesis after GI (corresponds to cognitive category 5 – ‘Analyse’ and category 6 – ‘Create’ respectively). Students could offer more suggestions to improve the reliability and validity of data, despite them admitting that they had not learnt much content through the GI as public transport was something they were familiar with. This emphasises the value of GI in deepening students’ higher-order cognitive thinking by creating opportunities for students to gather data in real-life contexts and be involved in crafting data collection instruments (in this case, questionnaires), further sensitising them to geographical data. Even so, Molly and Weilin exhibited greater deepening of higher-order cognitive skills compared to Zack and Keith. This may be due to the actual level of involvement of students in conducting the questionnaire surveys for their Transport GI out in the field. As noted by Weilin, she and Molly “did more talking” whereas Keith and Zack “did not have the courage to ask people to do the survey”. Thus, it could be inferred that students who play a more active role in conducting fieldwork may experience more significant development in cognitive thinking (Mackenzie & White, 1982).

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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