Geographical inquiry is a process by which students learn about and deepen their understanding of geography. It involves individual or group investigations that start with geographical questions and proceed through the collection, evaluation, interpretation and analysis of information to the development of conclusions and proposals for actions. Students will apply their geographical skills and use geographical tools during an inquiry process to acquire, process and communicate geographical information and form proposals and, where appropriate, act upon them. Inquiries may vary in scale and geographical context. Fieldwork provides opportunities for students to be involved in an active inquiry outside the classroom.
It is not intended that students would always undertake a complete inquiry process. For example teachers could provide students with data to represent or analyse rather than have students acquire or collect the information themselves. Throughout the years of schooling, inquiry will progressively move from more teacher-centred to more student-centred as students develop skills and gain experience with inquiry processes.
The stages of a complete inquiry are:
Acquiring geographical information
- identify an issue or problem
- develop geographical questions to investigate the issue or problem
- collect primary geographical data
- gather geographical information from secondary sources
- record information
Processing geographical information
- evaluate data and information for reliability and bias
- represent data and information in appropriate forms
- interpret data and information gathered
- analyse findings and results
- draw conclusions
Communicating geographical information
- communicate the results using a variety of strategies appropriate to the subject matter, purpose and audience
- reflect on the findings of the investigation; what has been learned; the process and effectiveness of the inquiry
- propose actions and predict outcomes
- where appropriate, take action.