Powerful Geography
Research Synopsis

Powerful Geography is a research initiative to inform future development of the next generation of geography standards. The research represents a new 'bottom-up' empirical approach to conceiving, developing, and evaluating standards for diverse student populations in every state. This work will feature four research components framed by a normative theory of human development and capabilities.

The first research component will be an exploratory analysis of restricted-use NAEP Geography data (1994, 2001, 2010, 2014, 2018) for elementary, middle, and high school students. Variance in student proficiency in geography will be analyzed in relation to student background characteristics, school-level contextual attributes, and classroom opportunity to learn (OTL) factors.

The second research component will define and measure the societal value of geography through a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the work, practices, and civic engagements of professionals with backgrounds in different areas of geography. Interview, survey, and work log data will be analyzed to identify substantive, conceptual, and procedural geographic knowledge applied in different professional and community contexts.

The third research component will focus on gathering data on student capabilities and aspirations. In partnership with the National Geographic Society, NCRGE will develop state samples and facilitate surveys and interviews with middle and high school teachers and students. The surveys and interviews will be designed to obtain information about students' capabilities for school success, what students aspire to be and to do, their goals and concerns, and their relative interest in various social and environmental issues.

The fourth research component will determine what geography subject matter to recommend as the basis of future standards. NCRGE will organize a series of research workshops involving geographers, teachers, teacher educators, education researchers, and curriculum writers from every state. During these workshops, participants will review and synthesize the findings of research components 1-3 to identify geography subject matter that has considerable societal value and potential to develop the capabilities of young people.

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