Overview

Geographical inquiry

A key feature of the Australian Curriculum: Geography is the emphasis assigned to the geographical inquiry process. The inquiry process provides a scaffold on which to structure geographical investigations. It also encourages the use of a range of pedagogies, from short classroom activities through to entire units of work. While these approaches might include teacher-directed forms of instruction, they are particularly suited to more collaborative approaches to teaching and learning, especially as students get older and develop the requisite skills.

The stages of the inquiry process are:

  • observing, questioning and planning
  • collecting, recording, evaluating and representing
  • analysing and concluding
  • communicating
  • reflecting and responding.

A more detailed explanation of these stages can be found in the Australian Curriculum: Geography. Also of relevance is the Curriculum's scope and sequence of inquiry and skills and the achievement standards for Year 7 and Year 8.

Through the use of the inquiry process, students master and deploy a wide range of skills to help plan and implement geographical investigations. These include those related to the interpretation, collection, analysis and evaluation of information. Also included are the skills related to the recording and representation of data.

The illustrations presented here focus on the skills of interpreting, analysing and presenting of information. 

Geographical skills

Geographical skills are the abilities to use methods and tools that geographers use when undertaking an inquiry. These skills are evident when planning and undertaking an investigation, collecting, manipulating and interpreting data, and when responding and reflecting on the investigation. 

Geographical skills can be broadly grouped using the same structure as a geographical inquiry. Geographical skills are typically relevant in the context of a geographical inquiry but they may also be used in an unconnected manner or stand-alone activity to develop understanding around an issue of study.

In Years 7–8 students collaborate to develop questions that frame geographical inquiries. They collect, interpret and analyse geographical information from primary and secondary sources, and use it to support conclusions. Using appropriate geographical terminology, students accurately represent data in a range of forms and construct graphic representations and communicate information. 

About the illustrations

Illustration 1: Weather maps and climate graphs – Year 7. This illustration focuses on the distinction between weather and climate within the context of a study of hydrological hazards. Students learn to interpret weather maps as a means of understanding the occurrence and spatial distribution of these hazards. Skills in weather map interpretation are developed along with the skills of climate graph construction and interpretation.

Illustration 2: Using Google Earth to investigate landscapes and landforms – Year 8. In this illustration, students use Google Earth to investigate the world's significant landform features and landscapes. They develop skills in landform identification and analysis using aerial photographic representations available via Google Earth. Students develop skills in locating and describing landforms. They also learn to apply their geographical knowledge to determine the geomorphic processes responsible for their formation.