In any academic discipline, good questions encourage good answers. Geography is no exception. The skills needed to build such answers require a structure that is both multifaceted and complex. Students must learn not only to manage data but also to assemble it so that it is clear and concise. The answers that derive from such a process can be organized in graphic form (maps, tables, graphs, and other geovisualizations) as well as oral and written narratives. Whatever the format, responses must be based on provable and relevant facts that inspire interpretation, analysis, reasoning, and, when appropriate, the subtleties of inference.

Generalizations and new understandings are the expected results of the inquiry process. Developing generalizations requires that students use the information they have collected, processed, and analyzed to make informed statements about geographic issues. Teachers should encourage students to explore multiple points of view and to seek multiple solutions to problems. Students may also use the evidence they have acquired to make decisions, solve problems, or form judgments about a question, issue, or problem.

Developing geographic generalizations may require inductive reasoning (i.e., inferring a generalization from particular instances or facts) or deductive reasoning (i.e., inferring particular instances and fact from a generalization). Inductive reasoning enables students to synthesize geographic information to answer questions and reach conclusions. Deductive reasoning enables students to identify relevant questions, collect and assess evidence, and decide whether the generalizations are appropriate by testing them. Students should have experience in both approaches to reasoning.

Students should be able to communicate clearly and effectively when answering geographic questions. They can display geographic information in many engaging and effective ways. These include combinations of digital images, maps, graphs, video, and narratives in multimedia or web-based presentations. Geographic information may also be presented through the use of poems, collages, plays, journals, debates, and essays. It is important to know how to select the best means of presenting answers to geographic questions.

Answering geographic questions is not always the last step in the process of geographic inquiry, because the process usually begins again with new questions suggested by the conclusions and generalizations. Geographic learning is a continuous process that is both empowering and fascinating.

Being able to answer geographic questions enables students to engage in doing geography by presenting the results of their geographic inquiry to inform decision-making and offer potential solutions to problems.

  • The student knows and understands:

    Answering Geographic Questions

    1. The process of making generalizations and drawing conclusions to answer geographic questions

    Therefore, the student:

    A. Constructs answers to geographic questions using data, as exemplified by

    • Constructing a flowchart, map, and narrative summarizing the steps used in answering a geographic question.
    • Constructing a digital or paper map that answers a geographic question and describing the data used to inform the answer.
    • Constructing a photographic display to summarize key geographic observations based on viewing a collection of images of a place or region.

    2. The methods for presenting answers to geographic questions

    Therefore, the student:

    A. Describes various options for presenting answers to a geographic question, as exemplified by

    • Describing how maps can display geographic information to help answer geographic questions.
    • Describing how multimedia tools can be used to present answers to geographic questions.
    • Identifying and describing an example of a presentation of geographic information that may answer geographic questions (e.g., map displaying an analysis from a news article, a graph displaying data used to compare two locations).
  • The student knows and understands:

    Answering Geographic Questions

    1. The process of explaining generalizations and conclusions that answer geographic questions

    Therefore, the student:

    A. Describes and explains the data and processes used to answer geographic questions, as exemplified by

    • Constructing an answer to a geographic question by describing the characteristics and relevance of the data used to inform the answer.
    • Describing how a GIS was developed and explaining why specific data layers were selected to answer a geographic question.
    • Explaining the steps used in answering a geographic question including how geographic information was collected, organized, and analyzed to arrive at the answer.

    2. The construction of presentations to answer geographic questions

    Therefore, the student:

    A. Constructs a presentation to answer a geographic question, as exemplified by

    • Constructing a map using a GIS that displays possible answers to geographic questions (e.g., preferred site location for business or schools, possible sources and paths of pollution plumes, areas for greatest or least crime risk in an urban area).
    • Constructing a multimedia presentation including maps, images, and video to describe the steps and data used to answer a geographic question (e.g., show how a geographic question was chosen, present where and how data were collected or acquired, use different visual methods for organizing, displaying, and analyzing geographic information).
    • Constructing an oral presentation that presents and defends the answers to a geographic question.
  • The student knows and understands:

    Answering Geographic Questions

    1. The process for evaluating and defending the answers to geographic questions

    Therefore, the student:

    A. Evaluates the data sources and processes used to answer geographic questions, as exemplified by

    • Constructing a narrative report that evaluates the validity and reliability of the data used and the processes used to formulate answers to geographic questions.
    • Explaining how and why the data used in an investigation supports the defense of the generalizations made in answering geographic questions.
    • Constructing a test of a geographic answer by applying it to a new study area or era to see if the same process yields a defensible answer.

    2. The process of using valid generalizations and conclusions to inform reasoned decisions

    Therefore, the student:

    A. Explains and evaluates the data and processes used to inform answers to geographic questions, as exemplified by

    • Explaining the limits of the generalizations that may be made as a result of the data used in a geographic inquiry.
    • Evaluating a news article that defends a possible answer to a geographic question and explaining how the data used does or does not support the proposed answer and what additional data might be considered.
    • Evaluating the feasibility of an answer presented by identifying additional geographic questions or concerns that may influence the proposed answer.

Created By

Geography Education National Implementation Project Geography Education National Implementation Project