Understanding Teachers’ Knowledge and Practice of Lower Secondary Geographical Investigations

Teachers’ Practice of Geographical Investigations

  • How Teachers’ Practice of Geographical Investigations (GI) can help teachers


    • Address gap between teacher knowledge and teacher practice

    • Suggest how teachers can be supported to better enact GI

    • Share NIE Humanities and Social Studies Education online resource: Sustainability Learning Lab



Findings from Teachers’ Practice of Geographical Investigations guided the development of

The Sustainability Learning Lab - what is it?

CoVAA

Image 1: Photo credits: Dennis Lee, IN-Learning, NIE (view larger image)

The Sustainability Learning Lab (SLL) is a user-friendly and informative one-stop online portal that supports the Singapore Ministry of Education Geography curriculum.


Developed collaboratively by human and physical geographers, SLL provides public access to:

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Image 2: Teachers’ Practice of Geographical Investigations Portal (view larger image)

  • Pertinent data and multimedia information sources
  • Sample lesson plans and fieldwork ideas
  • Fun and interactive classroom activities

The SLL online portal also supports real, outdoor learning labs like the NIE Rain Garden and the Jurong Eco Garden.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) Geography curriculum highlights GI as a way to provide students with a means to contextualize and apply geographical knowledge and skills.


The research seeks to deepen students’ learning experience by exploring and understanding links between teacher knowledge and teacher practice in a fieldwork-based context. The research also focuses on water quality because of it being rolled out in the 2014 Singapore syllabus and being used as well in the new 2021 syllabus. Water is also of strategic importance to Singapore.


The research inquiry builds upon the ideas of American educational psychologist Lee S. Shulman who opined that the ‘missing paradigm’ was in the inquiry of how subject matter transformed from the knowledge of the teacher into content of instruction (1986, p.6.).

Benefits-of-CoVAA

Figure 1: Shulman's categories of teachers' knowledge ((available for download here ) )

Shulman, L. (1986). Those who understand: knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4-14.


Shulman, L. (1987). Knowledge and teaching: foundation of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1), 1-22.

How was the research carried out?


Using a case study design approach, the research team worked on a sample of four secondary schools and six secondary one Geography teachers.


Findings from lesson observations, curriculum resource analysis, and interviews were then synergized to respond to the following research questions (RQ):


  • RQ 1: What types of knowledge do secondary school teachers in Singapore have about conducting GI?

  • RQ 2: How do secondary Geography teachers conduct GI with their students?

  • RQ 3: What is the influence of teachers’ knowledge on their practice in conducting GI with their students?


The research revealed that:
  • Teachers varied in professional dispositions, beliefs, and attitudes about the purpose of GI

  • Teachers’ appreciation for role of GI in student-led knowledge construction did not always align with practice

  • Teachers’ practice observed to be highly teacher-directed with time and manpower constraints cited as primary factors

  • To better enact GI, teachers needed support in

  • Fostering authentic, student-centred field-based inquiry

  • Fostering teacher identity relative to field-based inquiry

  • Exercising reasoning and reflection phases of the inquiry cycle, with regards to the GI framework (MOE, 2014)

  • To better deliver content on water quality, teachers needed support in:

  • Developing knowledge of scientific concepts related to water quality

  • Understanding hydro-social dynamics of fieldwork sites

What does this mean for the professional development of Geography teachers in schools?


Curriculum leaders might need to address teachers’ professional identities during professional development to align teachers’ practice with the desired outcomes of a Geographical education


Teachers’ enactment of GI can be better supported through the provision of professional development and curricular resources that:

  • Support more student-directed inquiry
  • Support teachers’ knowledge about the scientific concept of water quality GI and address issue of place-based knowledge with regard to the fieldwork sites
Research led by
Author
Principal Investigator
Dr Tricia Seow Ing Ching Dorothy
Co-Principal Investigator
Dr Irvine Kim Neil, formerly of NIE

To learn more, email: tricia.seow@nie.edu.sg

    Collaborators
  • Ms Tay Siu Hua, MOE

  • Ms Chan Hwee Leng, HOD Humanities, AHS, MOE

  • Ms Agnes Lim, HOD Science, CSS, MOE

Understanding Teachers’ Knowledge and Practice of Lower Secondary Geographical Investigations

Teachers’ Practice of Geographical Investigations

Question-Icon
How project findings from Teachers’ Practice of
Geographical Investigations (GI) can help teachers
    • Address gap between teacher knowledge and teacher practice

    • Suggest how teachers can be supported to better enact GI

    • Share NIE Humanities and Social Studies Education online resource: Sustainability Learning Lab

Findings from Teachers’ Practice of Geographical Investigations guided the development of:

NIE

Image 1: Photo credits: Dennis Lee, IN-Learning, NIE (view larger image)

The Sustainability Learning Lab (SLL) is a user-friendly and informative one-stop online portal that supports the Singapore Ministry of Education Geography curriculum.


Developed collaboratively by human and physical geographers, SLL provides public access to:

Geographical Investigations Portal

Image 2: Teachers’ Practice of Geographical Investigations Portal (view larger image)

  • Pertinent data and multimedia information sources
  • Sample lesson plans and fieldwork ideas
  • Fun and interactive classroom activities

The SLL online portal also supports real, outdoor learning labs like the NIE Rain Garden and the Jurong Eco Garden.

Question-Icon
Why Teachers’ Practice of Geographical
Investigations

The Ministry of Education (MOE) Geography curriculum highlights GI as a way to provide students with a means to contextualize and apply geographical knowledge and skills.

The research seeks to deepen students’ learning experience by exploring and understanding links between teacher knowledge and teacher practice in a fieldwork-based context. The research also focuses on water quality because of it being rolled out in the 2014 Singapore syllabus and being used as well in the new 2021 syllabus. Water is also of strategic importance to Singapore.

The research inquiry builds upon the ideas of American educational psychologist Lee S. Shulman who opined that the ‘missing paradigm’ was in the inquiry of how subject matter transformed from the knowledge of the teacher into content of instruction (1986, p.6.).

Shulman's categories of teachers' knowledge

Figure 1: Shulman's categories of teachers' knowledge (available for download here )

Shulman, L. (1986). Those who understand: knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4-14.


Shulman, L. (1987). Knowledge and teaching: foundation of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1), 1-22.

Explanation of How it Works

How was the Research Carried Out?

Using a case study design approach, the research team worked on a sample of four secondary schools and six secondary one Geography teachers.


Findings from lesson observations, curriculum resource analysis, and interviews were then synergized to respond to the following research questions (RQ):


  • RQ 1: What types of knowledge do secondary school teachers in Singapore have about conducting GI?
  • RQ 2: How do secondary Geography teachers conduct GI with their students?
  • RQ 3: What is the influence of teachers’ knowledge on their practice in conducting GI with their students?

Question-Icon
Key Findings
The Research Revealed that:


  • Teachers varied in professional dispositions, beliefs, and attitudes about the purpose of GI
  • Teachers’ appreciation for role of GI in student-led knowledge construction did not always align with practice
    • Teachers’ practice observed to be highly teacher-directed with time and manpower constraints cited as primary factors


  • To better enact GI, teachers needed support in
    • Fostering authentic, student-centred field-based inquiry

    • Fostering teacher identity relative to field-based inquiry

    • Conducting reconnaissance of fieldwork sites for GI

    • Exercising reasoning and reflection phases of the inquiry cycle, with regards to the GI framework (MOE, 2014)


  • To better deliver content on water quality, teachers needed support in:
    • Developing knowledge of scientific concepts related to water quality

    • Understanding hydro-social dynamics of fieldwork sites

Question-Icon
Implications for Schools
What does this mean for the Professional Development of Geography Teachers in Schools?


  • Curriculum leaders might need to address teachers’ professional identities during professional development to align teachers’ practice with the desired outcomes of a Geographical education
  • Teachers’ enactment of GI can be better supported through the provision of professional development and curricular resources that:
    • Support more student-directed inquiry

    • Support teachers’ knowledge about the scientific concept of water quality GI and address issue of place-based knowledge with regard to the fieldwork sites

Question-Icon
Research Team

To learn more about this research, please contact Principal Investigator Dr Tricia Seow at tricia.seow@nie.edu.sg.



    Principal Investigator
  • Dr Tricia Seow Ing Chin Dorothy, Humanities & Social Studies Education (HSSE), NIE
    Co-Principal Investigator
  • Dr Irvine Kim Neil, formerly of NIE
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Research Project

The following project is associated with GI Research:


Acknowledgments

ERFP-Funded Example


  • Teachers’ Practice of Geographical Investigations was funded by Singapore Ministry of Education (MOE) under the Education Research Funding Programme (OER 19/15 TS), Singapore National Research Foundation (NRF) under the eduLab Programme (NRF2015-EDU001-IHL12) and administered by National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Singapore MOE, Singapore NRF and NIE.

Author Credit Example:


  • This knowledge resource based on OER 19/15 TS and NRF2015-EDU001-IHL12 was represented by Tan Giam Hwee.