Analyzing geographic information involves seeking patterns, relationships, and connections. As students analyze and interpret information, meaningful patterns or processes emerge. They can then synthesize their observations into coherent explanations. Students should note associations and similarities between areas, recognize patterns, and draw inferences from maps, graphs, diagrams, tables, and other sources. Using basic statistics, students are able to look for trends, relationships, and sequences.

Geographic analysis involves various thinking processes. It is sometimes difficult to separate the processes involved in organizing geographic information from the procedures used in analyzing it; the two processes go on simultaneously in many cases. But in other instances, analysis follows the manipulation of raw data into an easily understood and usable form. Both activities involve the use and development of students’ spatial skills.

Students should scrutinize paper and digital maps to discover and compare spatial patterns and relationships. In addition, they can study tables and graphs to determine trends and relationships between and among items; probe data through statistical methods to identify trends, sequences, correlations, and relationships; and examine texts and documents to interpret, explain, and synthesize characteristics. All students need to develop these analytical skills.

Digital tools provide additional ways to analyze spatial data. For example, a GIS spatial display can be used to analyze georeferenced data. Multiple data layers may reveal relationships or trends as a part of the analysis. These analytic processes then may lead to answers to the questions that first prompted an inquiry and to the development of geographic models and generalizations.

Being able to analyze geographic information enables students to engage in doing geography by using analytical methods to interpret and evaluate geographic information. Employing accurate analysis techniques and methodologies is essential in geographic inquiry.

  • The student knows and understands:

    Analyzing Geographic Information

    1. The process of analyzing data to identify geographic relationships, patterns, and trends

    Therefore, the student:

    A. Analyzes simple graphs, tables, and maps using geographic data to identify relationships, patterns, and trends, as exemplified by

    • Constructing a graph representing geographic information from a data table to identify trends (e.g., comparing social or economic indi­cators between two or more countries).
    • Analyzing various maps to identify relationships or similarities be­tween countries or regions based on the data represented (e.g., varia­tions in climate related to latitude, population densities related to climate, railway networks in relation to elevation or topographies).
    • Analyzing the relationships and patterns between political bound­ary lines and features on maps to describe possible trends (e.g., boundaries aligned to rivers, mountain ranges, or other physical fea­tures, boundaries aligned to lines of latitude or longitude or other mathematical formulations).
  • The student knows and understands:

    Analyzing Geographic Information

    1. The process of analyzing data to describe geographic relationships, patterns, and trends

    Therefore, the student:

    A. Analyzes graphs, tables, and maps using geographic data to describe relationships, patterns, and trends, as exemplified by

    • Analyzing two or more maps or satellite images to describe changes or identifying trends that may be evident based on the data (e.g., satellite images of a city or region before and after a tsunami, earthquake, or flood, satellite images of forests where logging is taking place, maps of census data showing changes in population).
    • Analyzing map legends to better understand the nature of the representation of data on the map (e.g., classification values and break points of a choropleth map, methods for determining different classification values, review the histogram of the data to see how data are represented in another form in addition to the mapped version).
    • Analyzing a GIS to describe the relationships and patterns resulting from the overlay of multiple data sets (e.g., describe the relationship of tornado occurrences with population density and state boundaries).
  • The student knows and understands:

    Analyzing Geographic Information

    1. The process of analyzing data to explain geographic relationships, patterns, and trends

    Therefore, the student:

    A. Analyzes and explains geographic relationships, patterns, and trends using models and theories, as exemplified by

    • Constructing a GIS model to analyze data from multiple locations and comparing the model results to identify patterns or relationships in those locations.
    • Analyzing population data as represented in the demographic tran­sition model to explain the changes through time in populations of countries.
    • Analyzing a US city using a concentric zone model to explain the historical evolution of the commercial downtown.

    B. Analyzes data using statistics and other quantitative techniques, as exemplified by

    • Constructing a scatter plot of data to identify possible relationships or trends in the data.
    • Analyzing a histogram for data to determine the best method for displaying the values on a map.
    • Analyzing data using descriptive statistics such as average, median, mode, and range to determine the characteristics of the distribution in the data set.

Created By

Geography Education National Implementation Project Geography Education National Implementation Project