TRANS Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 17. Nr. März 2010

Sektion 8.15. New Approaches, Innovations and Research in Education | Neuigkeiten, Innovationen und Forschungen in der Erziehung
SektionsleiterInnen | Section Chairs: Leyla Esentürk-Ercan and Melek Çakmak (Gazi University, Ankara, Turkey)

Dokumentation | Documentation | Documentation

A special Teaching Concept in Teaching Climate Subjects
in Secondary Education: Geography Lessons

Experimental Observation”

Ufuk Karakuş (Ahi Evran University, Turkey) [BIO]




When teaching Geography, it is not possible to ensure the permanence of knowledge without applying practical studies. However in many countries, geography is taught only theoretically, without any practice or experiment. This situation not only leads the students to learn by rote but also prevents them from understanding the importance of geography. Experimental observations and laboratories to be constructed in the schools have a great importance in being able to apply geography education realistically and it is necessary to use experiments in teaching geography.


1. Introduction

The majority of our problems we encounter today arise from not to being able to raise individuals who are progressive and entreat lifelong learning. The main reason of this problem is due to the education system and the educational techniques used.

Geography can not be taught without studies that aren’t oriented towards practical application. Not being able to convert theoretically taught subjects from abstract to concrete and not being able to set examples that have connections with real life situations affects geography education in being effective. It is possible for students to learn theoretical knowledge and the concepts given abstractly far more better by using practical experimental methods. The statement “I heard and forgot, I saw and I remember, I do and I understand” has become a saying which summarizes this situation in a very efficient manner. In order to apply this situation, students must find themselves in a learning environment that is enjoyable and exciting for them. Such learning situations can only be fulfilled by ensuring geographical laboratories. (Karakuş, 2006: 28).


2. Method

The boredom of High school and university students in geography lessons is surely due to the problems of instruction. Yet why is geography lessons especially in question? In this regard, a new fact has been encountered: In spite of the pedagogical applications that surprise people today, in the past this field awakened certain interest. Although geography books where gradually embellished with pictures and had illustrations that resembled magazines, this field of discipline brought about continuously increasing difficulty. (Aksoy, 2004, s.4).

According to many researchers that have been studying and working on how geography instruction should be, clearly mention that the current geography instruction methods are inaccurate and that modern teaching methods are not benefited from. At this point, it is necessary to clarify to the people who believe that geography only consists of statistical data, area of countries, names of cities, length of rivers etc, that geographical subjects are useful in many parts of life, and consist of knowledge that can be related with our daily live’s and can be better understood with applications. The only way to achieve this is by applying practical teaching methods that have been proven to be effective by researchers working in this area. This study will set an example for the educators who are dedicated to teaching geography.

In the research, after defining observation and explaining how it can be applied in geography teaching, an activity planned to reinforce the teaching of climate subjects will be described. Then, the results and suggestions of the study will be explained.


3. Findings

3.1. Observation Technique

“Observation in teaching is to examine or watch several indications or conditions of the object, concept or event with the use of visual materials in a planned frame within its happening, phase by phase, in order to understand an object, concept or an event.” (Binbaşıoğlu, 1994, s.123).

Büyükkaragöz and Çivi (1999, s.90) describes observation as:

“Observation in teaching is to examine any event or asset within a planned frame prepared beforehand aiming to realize certain educational results.” “The excursions related to observation organized at school is called observation excursion.”

Observation is an activity which is purposeful and planned. While preparing the observation plan, the students’ thoughts and requests should be questioned and they should be encouraged to participate in planning the studies or action (Karakuş, 2006, s. 53).

Although observation was known as a scientific method since the time of Aristotales (B.C. 384–322), particularly in the Middle Ages it was believed that everything passing through feelings would be complicated and wrong so no observations were made to the beings and events in nature, they were taught only via books. Observation started to enter schools after the efforts of the French educator Robelas in the 16th century, the Czech educator Comenius and English philosopher John Locke in the 17th century and J.J. Rousseau and Pestolozzi in the 18th century, Today, it is a technique used in many scientific fields.

In one respect, observation is the scientific shaping of the existent desire to examine and research tendency of the child. Observation is a method that supports the development of the child’s sense organs, mind and helps the child gain knowledge. Before coming to school, the child would have already observed many actions or events, but these are not under a planned frame. They are topics which are not suitable for the child’s mind level, therefore with the aim of re-teaching it is necessary to reexamine the events and facts which occurred in the schools in the past. Through observation the students can acquire a great deal of knowledge directly by examining “natural” resources such as; plants, animals, stones, metals and mines; or by examining “artificial” entities like historical remainings, factories and museums. However, it is very important to guide these studies and to point out why the observation is made and how the observation will be carried out must be brought to the student’s attention.

Topics of observation are objects, facts and the relations between them. The object can be examined in the form of it in nature, and items that can be carried to classrooms or laboratories can be taken to school and be examined there. The fact is any formation or change in the universe that can be observed directly or indirectly. For example snow, wind and solar eclipse. Observing these are extremely important in terms of learning (Karakuş, 2006, s.54).

This method that constitutes the fundamentals of geographical researches at an academic level can be a very useful method that can be applied in secondary geography education if the conditions and facilities are possible (Doğanay, 1993, s.127).

The role of observation in teaching can be defined as follows:

  1. Students acquire knowledge directly.
  2. They gain some basic skills related to scientific examination and acquire basic skills related to the research.
  3. They interrelate between what they learn as abstract and concrete situations.

Büyükkaragöz and Çivi (1999, s.91) determined the benefits of observation technique as follows:

  1. It enables students to gain knowledge directly by observing goods, events and resources.
  2. Students have the opportunity to get to know more about their close surroundings.
  3. Discussing lesson subjects provides the opportunity to benefit from and make use of various resources in our surroundings.
  4. It enables the sense organs to participate in learning.
  5. It enables students to gain fundamental skills related with scientific research and examination.
  6. It enables students to gain knowledge which pertains to real life situations
  7. It allows students to be good observers.

While studying the units, the observation technique must be referred in parallel to the units. In this way, meaningful relations can be established between theoretical knowledge and the objects to be observed. Theoretical knowledge gains a more permanent quality. However, observation can be made before or after the unit according to the situation. Ideally, observation must be made in natural conditions or in the situations that are close to these conditions. Observation can be made either as a class or individually. Observations made as a class are called “educational lesson excursions” (Hesapcıoğlu, 1994, s.220).

Observation must arise from a need related to the teaching activities. Observations that don’t arise from a need or in conditions where the aim is not clearly understood it will be less useful. Before starting the observation the teacher must be prepared and must see the observation location beforehand, he/she should specify what will be observed, interview people who can explain the topic better if necessary and take the necessary precaution in organizing the most suitable time for student observation. While preparing the observation plan, the instructor must inform students about the topic, must explain the observation topic, how the observation will be made, what kind of methods will be used during the observation and how the necessary preparations will be realized (Büyükkaragöz and Çivi,1999, s.93).

An assessment must surely be done after the observation. The assessment can be done either in the classroom or at the location of observation. However observation in its location will be more useful, since it may be possible to re observe the topics which are not understood. Moreover, an observation report can be asked from the students.

Types of observation:

  1. Observation in accordance with style of observation:
    1. Direct observation: It is important that the individual observes with his/her own eyes without the use of any tools.
  2. Observation with tools: Observation is made with the help of a tool. For example; a microscope.
    1. Observation in accordance with its location:
    2. Observation made out of school, in the natural environment: Excursions out of the school are needed for this kind of observation.
    3. Observation made at school, in the classroom or in a cultural environment: They can be made in a laboratory, garden or observation station.
  3. Observation in accordance to time:
    1. Continuous observation: Observing and determining the results of the event nonstop from the beginning to the end.
    2. Observation made when the time comes: For example, to examine factory operations on a certain date.
    3. Periodical observation: Carrying out continuous observation and observation when the time comes together. Carrying out an event from the beginning to the end at certain intervals.


  1. Takes a long time and it is costly.
  2. An observation made out of school campus gives legal responsibilities to the teacher.
  3. There can be some difficulties in going and returning to and from the observation location.
  4. It is difficult to find a suitable location to make the observation in accordance to the topics and the organization of the observation.
  5. If not planned well, it is a waste of time.
  6. There can be some difficulties in motivating students and getting their attention in concentrating on the topic during the observation.
  7. Observations organized out of the school can be made only a few times as they take a long time to organize. Because of these difficulties, it will be vital to observe a lot of topics at the same time and this may effect students in being able to clearly and completely understand all the topics.

3.2-Experimental observation example in geography teaching

For example, we can make an observation that can be used in teaching climate topics in geography as follows;

1st stage

Name of the experiment: Weather forecast

Situation in question and the aim of the experiment:

What kind of weather forecast experiments can you make?
You can teach how weather forecast are made.
You can provide information on climate values in accordance with weather

Achievements: Through weather observations the student acquires permanent knowledge in regard to climate

Learns how weather reports are formed in accordance with weather observations.

Materials: Thermometer, magnetic compass, metallic barometer, compass rose.

Steps of the experiment

1st Step

For this experiment the students must keep records for at least two weeks. How to use the tools, where to use them and how to keep the records must be explained beforehand.

The teacher will request the students to copy the table below for recording data and observations. Following the directions below, together they will observe the weather everyday for two weeks and they will make the observations in the same location and at the same time everyday..



Degree  in C

Atmospheric pressure

Percentage of cloud in the sky

Cloud types

Wind direction




Table 1: Data and observation table

2nd Step

3rs Step

After the experimental observation is over, examine the reports of the students and ask the following questions.

  1. Which wind direction(s) are related to the cold days?
  2. Which wind direction(s) are related to the hot days?
  3. Which wind direction(s) are related to more cloudy days?
  4. Which are related to less cloudy days?
  5. Is there any relation between low barometris pressure, the formation of clouds and precipitation?
  6. Is there any relation between low/high barometric pressure and the formation of winds?
  7. To what extend was your forecast accurate for the next day?
  8. Give an example of any mistakes that happened/may have happened in your forecast.
  9. What kind of weather observations can you make?
  10. How do the meteorologists make extra weather observations?

(Benefited from the book; Focus on Earth Science)
(Hesser, D.T., Leach, S.S., 1987).

4. Result and Suggestions

Observation methods are more effective than traditional teaching methods because they allow students to actively participate both in and out of the classroom, it encourages students to reach and produce knowledge by themselves, and aims for learning through experience and practice. However, not using experimental or other student centered teaching methods in all units of the lessons will cause students to get confused and therefore affect their learning. Therefore it is necessary that teachers prefer such active learning models in order to prevent students in experiencing this conflict.

Many studies carried out prove that experimental methods increase success in learning. Keys (2000), Hart vd. (2000), Hofstein ve Lunetta (1982). In the previous study we have made on this issue, it has been proved that various experiments planned for climate topics increase the success level of students in geography teaching (Karakuş, 2006).

Learning based on experimental methods can be applied in geography lessons in a longer period with larger groups. In order to apply this, it is necessary to prepare suitable conditions by choosing pilot schools and to educate teachers on this topic beforehand.

Experimental observation is more effective than the teacher centered teaching methods in increasing the productivity of students in climate topics of geography lessons. It is suggested that experimental methods be used in different units and topics of geography lessons.

To apply experimental methods in geography lessons we need to have laboratories. The current laboratory setup and the classrooms used as laboratories in our schools are inadequate, therefore it is necessary to rearrange these laboratories and make them suitable for modern geography education.

Experimental methods are not methods that are used only inside the school, these methods also allow the students in being active outside the school. Using these methods allow students to learn how to attain geographical knowledge outside the school and it helps the student realize and understand that geography is a part of real life.

To enhance the interest towards geography lessons, small observation stations that students make use of can be set up in school gardens. Records related to climate can be kept in these stations and clarifications of statistical information belonging to various geographical subjects can also be made in these stations.



8.15. New Approaches, Innovations and Research in Education | Neuigkeiten, Innovationen und Forschungen in der Erziehung

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For quotation purposes:
Ufuk Karakuş: A special Teaching Concept in Teaching Climate Subjects in Secondary Education: Geography Lessons - In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 17/2008. WWW:

Webmeister: Gerald Mach     last change: 2010-03-04