Numeracy in school geography : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Geography at Massey University

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Massey University
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Geography is taught in New Zealand secondary schools at three separate levels; fifth form, sixth form and seventh form. There appears at present to be little continuity in the teaching content of the subject, and in the development of practical skills, from fifth form through to seventh form. Research is currently being conducted into geography teaching in New Zealand secondary schools with the intention of providing information with which to formulate a programme of curriculum revision aimed at integrating the geography syllabi from forms five to seven, with an emphasis on the sequential development of practical geographical skills. Many of the practical skills which have been identified in this research involve number operations and therefore require the student to be numerate. A definition of numeracy is proposed, and basic problems confronting students in their learning of mathematics - and so in their development of numeracy skills - are reviewed. A brief analysis of past School Certificate Examination Geography papers is made in order to identify the types of numeracy skills which have been tested in geographical education. The results of a survey of geography students in New Zealand secondary schools serve to provide information on the experience of these students in studying geography and mathematics. Information on the extent of continuity of geographical study is used to show that an integrated geography syllabus could be successfully operated. Although the incidence of the geography/mathemetics subject combination is found to be relatively high, it is suggested that provision in the new integrated geography syllabus be made for formal instruction in numeracy skills. A systematic analysis of the numeracy skills used in secondary school geography concludes this thesis, which has sought to show that it is necessary to identify and examine the types of numeracy skills which have been used in past geography examination papers, and which are therefore implicit in the existing geography syllabi, before proceeding to the formulation of an integrated syllabus for forms five to seven and to the programming of the sequential development of skills within this syllabus.
Secondary Education, Numeracy, Study and teaching, Geography, New Zealand