Years 9-10: Inquiry and skills — Overview

Geographical inquiry

These illustrations for Years 9–10 examine geographical inquiry and geographical skills as they apply to the Australian Curriculum: Geography (and its various HASS-based iterations) for these years.

The geographical inquiry process is a great tool to structure investigations at a range of pedagogical scales, from a short classroom activity through to an entire unit of work. Throughout the geographical inquiry process, students use a wide range of geographical skills to help them plan their investigations and to collect, interpret, analyse and evaluate information while they investigate.

In Years 9 and 10 students are developing their geographical literacy as they increasingly undertake activities and investigations that require higher-order thinking skills. Students should have some grounding in geographical skills but not all students at this level will have a consistent approach to their geography. This means that some time may need to be devoted to teaching students about geographical skills.

Geographical inquiry

A geographical inquiry is a method and structure for investigating geographical issues. The common elements of a geographical inquiry allow students to ask questions about a geographical issue, to gather and analyse relevant data about the issue, and examine solutions or rational alternatives. There is a recognised structure for an inquiry that is built around four key questions:

  • What and where are the issues being studied?
  • How and why does this issue work?
  • What are the economic, social and political impacts of this issue on relevant stakeholders?
  • What is being done and should be done to mitigate negative impacts and provide good outcomes?

It is important to note that a geographical inquiry can be applied at a range of scales, from a short in-class activity right through to an entire unit of work.

Geographical skills

Geographical skills are the methods or techniques that geographers use when undertaking investigations. These skills are evident when planning an investigation (collecting, manipulating and interpreting data), when undertaking an investigation (both in fieldwork and the classroom) and when responding and reflecting on the investigation.

Geographical skills can be broadly grouped using the same structure as a geographical inquiry. Geographical skills are typically relevant in the context of a geographical inquiry but they may also be used in an unconnected manner or stand-alone activity to develop understanding around an issue of study.

Geographical concepts

The seven geographical concepts illustrated in the Australian Curriculum: Geography are:

  • place
  • space
  • environment
  • interconnection
  • sustainability
  • scale
  • change.

You can explore these key concepts further in Illustration 2: The conceptsthat is in this website's support unit called Thinking geographically.

The geographical concepts provide a fundamental basis to geographical thinking and understanding, and should be applied at a high level across all aspects of the subject. As students develop and undertake geographical inquiry, these concepts will be central to all stages of the inquiry process. Geographical skills, as the tools that 'do' geography, are applied in pursuit of the inquiry objectives.

About the illustrations

Illustration 1: Developing an inquiry in Years 9-10 geography focuses on developing a geographical inquiry for use with the Australian Curriculum: Geography. A range of resources is provided.

Illustration 2: Skills in Years 9-10 geography elaborates on the key geographical skills suitable for students of Years 9 and 10. Additional resources provide ideas of how students might apply geographical skills in their work, as well as resource materials.
Both illustrations provide practical examples and ideas showing how the geographical concepts, geographical skills and the inquiry process all interrelate.