Academic journal article Education

An Experimental Research on Readiness Levels of Students in Terms of Geographical Concepts, and on Development of These Concepts

Academic journal article Education

An Experimental Research on Readiness Levels of Students in Terms of Geographical Concepts, and on Development of These Concepts

Article excerpt

SEVGI SUER

Above all, one of the most important aims of educational institutions is to train their students as citizens who are useful to the society that they live in and who are aware of their responsibilities. In order to achieve this aim, it is sought to provide students with basic citizenship skills by means of a broadening curriculum perception and the Knowledge of Life and Social Studies lessons (Sozer, 2006). The Social Studies curriculum is shaped partly with an interdisciplinary approach and partly with a multi-disciplinary approach in relation to various branches of social sciences such as History, Geography, Economics, Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology and Law. Barth (1991) defines Social Studies as "the interdisciplinary integration of social science and humanities concepts for the purpose of practising citizenship skills on critical social issues". The Social Studies curriculum for primary schools aims to familiarise students with their immediate surroundings and remote surroundings, and thus to socialise them and to help them gain understanding of "showing sensitivity for issues concerning their country and the world by being aware that they are a part of humanity" (Ozturk, 2009). The most important aim of teaching Social Studies at primary school is to help students gain a "social personality" (Genc, 2006), and the most important attribute of social personality is to be "a good citizen". The aim of being a good citizen for the individual is to know his duties and responsibilities, and to be aware of his surroundings and the events in these surroundings. In this sense, Social Studies lessons teach the individual what his duties and responsibilities towards himself, his family, other people and the government are, and how he can adapt to his social environment.

The Social Studies curriculum pays attention to the development of students' inductive and deductive thinking skills, and therefore the use of concepts (Ata, 2009). Ata (2007) points out that "the basic approach of the 2005 Social Studies curriculum is to raise efficient Turkish citizens by furnishing students with the skills, concepts and values that are required to produce and use information." Social Studies, in general, and teaching Geography, in particular, help raise individuals who learn especially about their immediate surroundings as well as the country that they live in and the world. Geography is based on discovery and observation. Therefore, it is known that concepts are of great importance to produce a positive learning experience and to achieve aims. One of the most prominent attributes of the science of Geography is that it often uses concepts to introduce and explain geographical phenomena and events. A concept is an abstract idea which can be expressed with a word or a sentence that represents the category of phenomena. Concepts are the names that we give to groups when we classify any objects, events, people and ideas according to their affinities (MEB, 2007).

Correct use of geographical concepts is related to knowing the right meanings of these concepts. The fact that each place, stream, lake, mountain and human activity is defined with names; that Geography uses specific terms and concepts in order to explain geographical phenomena and events; that the terms and concepts drawn on in several other sciences such as geology, biology and hydrology are used; that some of the concepts learnt do not belong to the place where students live in (e.g.: monsoon, tundra, taiga); and that they are not exemplified in the right way causes learners and instructors to adopt memorisation as a teaching / learning method. Not being able to learn concepts correctly and turn them into permanent knowledge is among the most important problems of learning Geography. Naturally, learning without understanding, i.e. memorisation, is brought to the forefront of Geography education. Thus, by adopting memorisation whilst learning geographical concepts, students acquire information without reasoning and without transferring it to their permanent memory. …

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