Understanding Teachers' Knowledge and Practice of Lower Secondary Geographical Investigations

Project Number
OER 19/15 TS

Project Duration
March 2016 - March 2019


Lee Shulman drew attention to the importance of research on teachers’ knowledge, arguing that teachers’ content or subject matter knowledge was a "missing paradigm" because no one was asking how subject matter was transformed from the knowledge of the teacher into the content of instruction (Shulman, 1986). Since then, research on teachers’ subject matter knowledge and its relationship with teachers’ practice has taken off in many disciplines. Within Geography education, there was a similar interest in teachers’ subject knowledge and its relevance to their classroom practice (Barratt-Hacking, 1996; Jewitt, 1998; Corney, 2000; Martin, 2005; Brooks, 2007, 2010; Seow, 2014). While research has illuminated the ways in which teachers draw on their knowledge bases in classroom environments, there is scant research on teachers’ practice in the field. The need for such research is particularly important within Geography education in Singapore, because of the current emphasis on geographical investigations as a means through which to "give students opportunities to appreciate real world application of geographical knowledge and skills as well as help them acquire 21st century competencies" (CPDD, 2014). This study will focus on teachers’ practice of geographical investigations for lower secondary school students, focusing particularly on water-quality geographical investigations as a research base. Using a range of methodological tools like concept mapping, semi-structured interviews and lesson observations, we will investigate what teachers know about water-quality measurement and assessment techniques, as well as how they transform this knowledge for teaching and learning. We will also study how teachers integrate field-based learning with classroom teaching on the wider topic of water supply. We suggest that this understanding will provide insights for teacher education and professional development policy and practice.

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