Macquarie University
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Developing the higher-order thinking skills of middle-school Geography students using Geographic Information Systems (GIS): a study of direct instruction and guided discovery pedagogies and the impact of additional multimedia scaffolding and teacher modelling pedagogies and the impact of additional multimedia scaffolding and teacher modelling

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posted on 2022-03-28, 23:57 authored by John Craig Kinniburgh
This thesis examines how, and to what extent, Geographical Information Systems (GIS)-based pedagogies and practices enhance the higher-order thinking skills of middle-school geography students. In doing so, it sought to investigate the influence of pedagogical orientation, ability level and specific instructional design approaches on GIS-based learning. The findings outline how to understand, document and interpret GIS-based pedagogical approaches that are most effective in improving student thinking and learning outcomes. The key design principles identified seek to change and improve the educational practice in this area and contribute to the body of researcharound GIS-based instructional frameworks. This thesis examined the key components of optimal GIS-based pedagogy for the classroom. This was achieved by investigating the effect of different pedagogies (direct instruction and guided discovery) on thinking performance at different levels. The study was conducted within the context of secondary geography education in New South Wales, Australia. The sample for the study consisted of students commencing Year 9 (9th Grade) at an independent boys’ school in Sydney. A design-based research framework was adopted as the overarching methodological approach, with mixed method techniques employed within three iterations to evaluate the effect of different interventions. A concurrent nested design was used, with the quantitative research approach being dominant and the qualitative research playing a complementary but important role. A 2 x 2 counterbalanced repeated measure design was applied to collect quantitative data, while openended survey questions and focus groups provided qualitative feedback from the participants. The outcomes indicate, firstly, that pedagogy did not emerge as a key factor influencing learning outcomes within the GIS-based units completed in the interventions. Secondly, middle-ability students were unable to develop their higher-order thinking skills, compared with those students of high ability, without the explicit introduction of different forms of multimedia scaffolding and teacher modelling. The final and important result of this research was that well-targeted and constructed multimedia-based scaffolds, as well teacher modelling, can assist middle-ability students to develop their higher-order thinking skills during GIS-based learning tasks. This outcome was achieved after careful consideration of student ability and appropriately designed scaffolding during the GIS-based activities administered during the study.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. The research context -- Chapter 2. Review of the literature -- Chapter 3. Methodology -- Chapter 4. Results -- Chapter 5. Discussion and conclusion -- References -- Appendices.


Bibliography: pages 135-168 Thesis by publication.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology

Department, Centre or School

Department of Psychology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Grant Kleeman

Additional Supervisor 1

Matt Bower


Copyright John Craig Kinniburgh 2017. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (ix, 401 pages) colour illustrations, maps (some colour)

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