Geographic inquiry involves the ability and willingness to ask and answer questions about geospatial phenomena. The key geographic questions ask Where is it located? Why is it there? What is the significance of the location? As students pose additional questions, they seek responses that help to organize spatial understandings: What is this place like? With what is it associated? What are the consequences of its location and associations? As geospatial technologies advance, students will still need to be able to ask these basic questions to select and apply the appropriate technology to conduct geographical research, thereby gaining geospatial understanding.

Students should be asked to speculate about possible answers to questions. Speculation leads to the development of hypotheses that link the asking and answering stages of the process. Hypotheses guide the search for information.

Geography is distinguished by the types of questions it asks—the “where” and “why there” of an issue or problem. It is important that students develop and practice the skills of asking such questions for themselves. Practice in asking geographic questions begins with distinguishing between geographic and nongeographic questions (e.g., space-based versus time-based inquiry). Students should then develop geographic questions related to issues. At higher grade levels, students can identify geographic problems and ways in which geographic inquiry can help solve problems, resolve issues, inform decisions, and lead to actions.

Being able to ask geographic questions enables students to engage in doing geography by posing geographic questions to guide a geographic inquiry, realizing that questions can be refined as a part of the inquiry process. Geographic questions help increase spatial reasoning skills, identify geographic issues and problems, and develop new or additional geographic research questions and hypotheses for further investigation.

 

  • The student knows and understands:

    • Asking Geographic Questions

      1. The characteristics of a geographic question

      Therefore, the student:

      A. Identifies and describes differences between geographic and nongeographic questions, as exemplified by

      • Identifying examples of geographic questions from a list of both geographic and nongeographic questions (e.g., does the question ask Where is it located? Why is it there? What is the significance of the location?).
      • Identifying questions that help explain the importance of the fea­tures or location of places (e.g., Why are good harbor facilities an im­portant part of New York City’s location? How does Chicago’s mid-continent location influence its accessibility to the rest of the United States? How does the climate of Florida’s cities affect the movement of vacationing winter visitors?).
      • Describing how geographic questions seek information about the organization of human or physical features in space (e.g., Where do most people live in the world? Why are mountain ranges located where they are?).
  • The student knows and understands:

    • Asking Geographic Questions

      1. The sources of geographic questions

      Therefore, the student:

      A. Identifies geographic issues and constructs a question from a geographic perspective, as exemplified by

      • Identifying geographic issues and problems in news articles and constructing geographic questions that would address the issue from a geographic perspective (e.g., spatial or ecological perspectives).
      • Identifying a local environmental issue and constructing geographic questions appropriate to study the issue (e.g., What are the pros and cons of building a community water park in the desert southwest region of the United States?).
      • Identifying a global human population issue and constructing geographic questions to investigate the issue from multiple perspectives (e.g., What are some of the reasons why people move from rural areas in a developing country to its largest and most crowded city? What are some of the economic and environmental consequences of such migrations?).
  • The student knows and understands:

    • Asking Geographic Questions

      1. The role of developing geographic questions in a research project that answers geographic questions

      Therefore, the student:

      A. Analyzes an issue and constructs geographic questions that inform a geographic investigation, as exemplified by

      • Analyzing digital and paper maps of a place or thematic topic and constructing geographic questions to investigate the issue.
      • Analyzing current trends in population and constructing geographic questions to investigate the sources and future projections of the trends.
      • Analyzing a current news report and constructing geographic questions that would provide a geographic focus to the study or resolution of the topic or issue.

Created By

Geography Education National Implementation Project Geography Education National Implementation Project