Assessing students' acquisition of basic geographical knowledge

Burçkin Dal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reports the findings of a survey conducted to investigate students' knowledge of geography, such as an accurate understanding of the basic vocabulary and essential concepts associated with the representative geographic locations, described here as 'spatial landmarks'. The factors that influence their learning, and how their perceived levels change after one year in all classroom levels, are also discussed. Students from a range of classroom levels participated in the survey: 229 middle school (12-15 years), 158 high school (16-18 years) and 66 university students. The results demonstrated that although the geography community has spent significant time and energy developing and disseminating alternative instructional strategies for use in all classroom levels, the limited conceptual gain experienced by students suggests that a different curriculum-development approach is warranted. In particular, the effects of curriculum and pedagogy on student conceptual understanding as well as the mechanisms for conceptual change in all classroom levels need to be studied in detail.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-130
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Research in Geographical and Environmental Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Assessment
  • Learning
  • Physical geography
  • Students' understanding
  • Teaching


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