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NSW Syllabuses

Geographical Tools

Geographical tools are used by geographers during an inquiry to acquire, process and communicate geographical information.

Students are to be provided with opportunities to engage with each of the geographical tools during each Stage of learning. Teachers will make decisions about the specific geographical tools appropriate to support the intended learning for the Stage.

The K–10 Geographical Tools Continuum provides examples of tools students may use in each Stage of learning.

It is intended that students progressively move from using tools to interpret geographical data and information in the earlier Stages of learning, to being able to develop and create tools for representing, synthesising and communicating the findings of geographical inquiry.

Maps – M

Maps take many forms and include digital and non-digital mediums. Examples include, but are not limited to, pictorial maps, large-scale and small-scale maps, relief maps, choropleth maps, flowline maps, cadastral maps, isoline maps, land use maps, physical maps, political maps, précis maps, road maps, thematic maps, topographic maps and special-purpose maps. Maps are used to locate, visualise, represent, display and record spatial data.

Fieldwork – F  

Fieldwork is an integral and mandatory part of the study of Geography as it facilitates an understanding of geographical processes and geographical inquiry. Fieldwork can enhance learning opportunities for all students because it caters for a variety of teaching and learning approaches. The enjoyable experience of active engagement in fieldwork helps to create and nurture a lifelong interest in and enthusiasm for the world students live in.

Fieldwork involves observing, measuring, collecting and recording information outside the classroom. Fieldwork can be undertaken within the school grounds, around local neighbouring areas or at more distant locations. In some instances it may be necessary to use information and communication technology to undertake virtual fieldwork. Where fieldwork is proposed for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander sites, participants should be familiar with protocols for working with Aboriginal communities and ensure appropriate consultation with local communities and education consultants occurs.  

Fieldwork enables students to:

  • acquire knowledge about environments by observing, mapping, measuring and recording phenomena in the real world in a variety of places, including the school
  • explore geographical processes that form and transform environments
  • use a range of geographical tools to assist in the interpretation of, and decision-making about, geographical phenomena
  • locate, select, organise and communicate geographical information
  • explore different perspectives on geographical issues.

Fieldwork activities should be carefully planned to achieve syllabus outcomes. Fieldwork activities should be integrated with the teaching and learning program to take full advantage of the enhanced understanding that can be achieved through direct observation, field measurements and inquiry learning. Fieldwork activities may be specific to a topic or may be integrated across the Geography curriculum.

Students must undertake and participate in fieldwork in each Stage of learning. In the early years of learning students should be guided to observe their local area such as weather and vegetation or interviewing family and community members about connections to other places.

There will be an increasing emphasis on independent observation and analysis of data in Stages 4–5. There are many opportunities for fieldwork in Stages 4–5 such as investigating geomorphic processes that create local landscapes, investigating the characteristics of a local place or observing aspects of human-induced environmental changes that challenge sustainability in local or regional landscapes.

Graphs and statistics – GS

Graphs, also called charts, take many forms and include digital and non-digital mediums. Examples include, but are not limited to, tally charts, pictographs, column graphs, line graphs, pie graphs, weather charts, climate graphs and population profiles.

Statistics also take many forms and include digital and non-digital mediums. Students will begin with basic data tables and progress to complex representations of statistics on common themes.

Graphs and statistics are used to collate, organise, illustrate, summarise and compare patterns, relationships and trends in geographical data and information.

Spatial technologies – ST  

Spatial technologies include any software or hardware that interacts with real world locations. Examples include, but are not limited to, virtual maps, satellite images, global positioning systems (GPS), geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing and augmented reality. Spatial technologies are used to visualise, manipulate, analyse, display and record spatial data.

Visual representations – VR

Visual representations take many forms and include digital and non-digital mediums. Examples include, but are not limited to, diagrams, images, photographs, paintings, illustrations, symbols, models, posters, collages, cartoons, multimedia, infographics and mind maps. Visual representations are used to display, visualise, analyse and communicate geographical data and information.