Effects of the Opportunity to Study Geography




Smith, Elizabeth

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The Grosvenor Center for Geographic Education


Do the attitudes and perceptions of teachers toward geography change when a high-stakes test such as the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) is introduced in schools? The purpose of this study will be to investigate the relationship between a positive attitude by teachers toward geography and the teaching of geography in schools. Recently, school districts within the state of Florida have dropped geography from the K-12 curriculum. Beyond the elementary grades the number of social studies classes are fewer due to factors such as budget constraints, fewer class periods, and most significantly, the implementation of the FCAT. The FCAT stresses achievement in reading, writing, math, and most recently, the sciences, therefore, excluding disciplines such as art, humanities, music, and the social sciences. And yet, state leaders and politicians claim that the test is comprehensive and that students are learning more with each passing year. However, due to recent world events, questions such as “Why do the Afghans hate us?” and “Why did this happen?” have been widely discussed, and it might be that students are lacking in social studies skills. My proposed research will focus on the attitudes of teachers toward geography after the implementation of the FCAT. How has this test changed the priority of geographic literacy in the K- 12 schools? Geographic literacy can be defined as the comprehension of spatial skills and strategies; students who are spatially literate are aware of their own and others values, perceptions, beliefs, locations, and behaviors. Research will concentrate solely on teacher perceptions because teachers are the agents of change. What teachers do not know, they cannot teach. If they lack an understanding and knowledge of geography, then it is highly likely that geography will be left out of the curriculum.



geographic education, state testing, Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, attitudes, curriculum


Smith, E. (2001). Effects of the opportunity to study geography. Research in Geographic Education, 3(1), pp. 102-106.


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