Where Literacy Meets Geography: Using Talk Moves to Engage Students in Geographical Data , pp. 4 of 8

Methodology

In this study, I drew on a collaboration with 3 geography teachers with classes in 2 different mainstream secondary schools in Singapore. Students were at lower to upper secondary level of study and ranged from 13 to 15 years of age. Table 1 provides more details of the classes involved. School 1 drew from a wide range of students from both upper-middle to lower socio-economic levels, while School 2 had students largely from middle to lower levels of socio-economic backgrounds. Students from Class 1 generally had average or below average academic ability, whereas Class 2’s students showed average academic performance. The study involved 2 research cycles. In each research cycle, the research team helped teachers incorporate Talk Moves into 3 of their lesson plans where geographical data would be used, which totaled 6 lessons for each class. After each cycle, an anonymous questionnaire survey (see Appendix B) was conducted with the students to find out their perceptions of 1) whether their analytical skills for geographical data improved; 2) if they became better at articulating their answers in a geographical manner; 3) if they became better at writing a geographical account based on data; and 4) whether they became better able to contribute to classroom discussions.

The survey consisted of 17 Likert-scale questions. Questions 1 to 6 were designed to measure the dependent variable “analytical skills for geographical data”, while Questions 7 to 10 are for measuring “articulating answers in a geographical manner”, Questions 11 to 14 for “students’ classroom participation” and Questions 15 to 17 for “writing a geographical account based on data”. All the responses were then converted to numerical data for data imputation. “Strongly Agree” was coded as 4; “Agree” as 3; “Disagree” as 2; and “Strongly Disagree” as 1. Data that was missing completely at random (MCAR) was imputed with the column mean of the same class. There were 3 responses where students marked between the boxes of “Agree” and “Disagree” intending to indicate neutral perception towards the corresponding questions. Hence, I used the mean value 2.5 (= (3 + 2) / 2) for the answers in those responses. To address the research questions, I calculated the proportions of all students’ ratings of the questions to look at their overall perception.

Findings and discussion

This section discusses the key findings from the surveys. In general, students were positive about the impact of Talk Moves in classroom discussion around geographical data. I will unpack the findings for each dependent variable below.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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