Thinking Geographically? Secondary Teachers’ Curriculum Thinking when Using Subject-Specific Digital Tools



Case study, Geography teaching, Secondary school, Geographical thinking, Subject-specific digital tools, Knowledge base, TPACK, GATI, Secondary education


In this paper we explore Swedish secondary social science teachers’ curriculum thinking when they engage in constructing lesson plans with the purpose to develop students’ geographical thinking while conducting geographical analyses with subject-specific digital tools (SSDTs). Framed as a case study with a workshop design, a group of secondary social science teachers constructed lesson plans that were implemented with their students. Different data were collected during the case study process, such as a survey, recorded workshops, written lesson plans and reflection documents. The findings were analysed based on a synthetic model of geographical thinking and the Graphical Assessment of TPACK Instrument, GATI, in order to consider teachers’ professional knowledge base. The results indicated that most of the teachers engaged in geographical thinking when planning the lessons, but there is an imbedded difficulty in the transformation of such thinking into lesson plans and student instructions. The knowledge base, displayed as their personal GATI models, differed among the teachers and integrating of SSDTs in the lesson plans turned out to be a threshold. Teachers with less technological knowledge did not manage to construct lesson plans even though their content knowledge was solid. Similarly, teachers with a less developed geographical knowledge base did not manage to integrate geographical thinking in their lesson plans. This implies that the integration between the different aspects of the knowledge base is crucial alongside developing each knowledge.


Sofie Nilsson, Karlstads universitet

Sofie Nilsson is PhD student in the Department of Educational Work at Karlstad University, Sweden. Beside her part time research studies, she teaches social science subject and English in a secondary school. Her research focuses on geography teaching and digital tools in secondary school with a specific interest in ways to teach geographical thinking with digital representations and tools (subject-specific digital tools). This paper is a part of Sofie Nilsson’s thesis.

Gabriel Bladh, Karlstads universitet

Gabriel Bladh is professor in Social Science Education at Karlstad University. His current research focus is on subject-specific education as a thematic field and especially geography education. He is appointed associate professor in Human Geography, and areas of specialization also include outdoor education, landscape research, theoretical perspectives connected to nature-society relations, and the history of geographical ideas.