The Australian Curriculum: Geography is organised in two related strands: geographical knowledge and understanding, and geographical inquiry and skills.
Geographical knowledge refers to the facts, generalisations, principles, theories and models developed in Geography. This knowledge is dynamic and its interpretation can be contested, with opinions and conclusions supported by evidence and logical argument.
Geographical understanding is the ability to see the relationships between aspects of knowledge and construct explanatory frameworks to illustrate these relationships. It is also the ability to apply this knowledge to new situations or to solve new problems.
The Australian Curriculum: Geography identifies the concepts of place, space, environment, interconnection, sustainability, scale and change, as integral to the development of geographical understanding. These are high-level ideas or ways of thinking that can be applied across the subject to identify a question, guide an investigation, organise information, suggest an explanation or assist decision-making.
In Years 7–10, students build on their understanding of place, space, environment, interconnection, sustainability and change and apply this understanding to a wide range of places and environments at the full range of scales, from local to global, and in a range of locations. These concepts are the key ideas involved in teaching students to think geographically in the Australian Curriculum: Geography and are developed in the following ways:
The concept of place is about the significance of places and what they are like:
The concept of space is about the significance of location and spatial distribution, and ways people organise and manage the spaces that we live in:
The concept of environment is about the significance of the environment in human life, and the important interrelationships between humans and the environment:
The concept of interconnection emphasises that no object of geographical study can be viewed in isolation:
The concept of sustainability is about the capacity of the environment to continue to support our lives and the lives of other living creatures into the future:
The concept of scale is about the way that geographical phenomena and problems can be examined at different spatial levels:
The concept of change is about explaining geographical phenomena by investigating how they have developed over time:
Geographical inquiry is a process by which students learn about and deepen their holistic understanding of their world. It involves individual or group investigations that start with geographical questions and proceed through the collection, evaluation, analysis and interpretation of information to the development of conclusions and proposals for actions. Inquiries may vary in scale and geographical context.
Geographical skills are the techniques that geographers use in their investigations, both in fieldwork and in the classroom. Students learn to think critically about the methods used to obtain, represent, analyse and interpret information and communicate findings. Key skills developed through Geography in the Australian Curriculum include formulating a question and research plan, recording and data representation skills, using a variety of spatial technologies and communicating using appropriate geographical vocabulary and texts.
Geographical skills are described in the curriculum under five subheadings representing the stages of a complete investigation. Over each two-year stage, students should learn the methods and skills specified for that stage, but it is not intended that they should always be learnt in the context of a complete inquiry. Teachers could, for example, provide students with data to represent or analyse rather than have them collect the information themselves. Inquiry does not always require the collection and processing of information: the starting point could be a concept or an ethical or aesthetic issue that can be explored orally. Many inquiries should start from the observations, questions and curiosity of students. Inquiry will progressively move from more teacher-centred to more student-centred as students develop cognitive abilities and gain experience with the process and methods across the years of schooling.
The stages of an investigation are:
Observing, questioning and planning: Identifying an issue or problem and developing geographical questions to investigate the issue or find an answer to the problem.
Collecting, recording, evaluating and representing: Collecting information from primary and/or secondary sources, recording the information, evaluating it for reliability and bias, and representing it in a variety of forms.
Interpreting analysing and concluding: Making sense of information gathered by identifying order, diversity, patterns, distributions, trends, anomalies, generalisations and cause-and-effect relationships, using quantitative and qualitative methods appropriate to the type of inquiry and developing conclusions. It also involves interpreting the results of this analysis and developing conclusions.
Communicating: Communicating the results of investigations using combinations of methods (written, oral, audio, physical, graphical, visual and mapping) appropriate to the subject matter, purpose and audience.
Reflecting and responding: Evaluating findings of an investigation to reflect on what has been learnt and the process and effectiveness of the inquiry; to propose actions that consider environmental, economic and social factors; and to reflect on implications of proposed or realised actions.
The two strands are integrated in the development of a teaching and learning program. The geographical knowledge and understanding strand is developed year by year and provides the contexts through which particular skills are developed. The geographical inquiry and skills strand has common content descriptions for each two-year band of schooling, but with elaborations specific to each year to support the changing content of the geographical knowledge and understanding strand.
Each year level includes key inquiry questions that provide a framework for developing students’ geographical knowledge and understanding, and inquiry and skills.
This site was developed in collaboration with ACARA by Education Services AustraliaEducation Services Australia