TOK: Geography Methodology
This page outlines the key methodologies that are important to Geography, with Geography bridging the Natural and Human Sciences the methodologies are quite broad covering both the Scientific Method and qualitative approaches within the Human Sciences.
The Scientific Method
The scientific method begin with a theory or hypothesis about a process in a geographical setting. The purpose of the experiment is to test that theory of hypothesis. Results are analyzed and conclusion made accepting or rejecting the theory/hypothesis. This may then lead to modifying or building on the original theory.
The Use of Scientific Theory
A theory is really just an explanation of some aspect of the natural or human world that has been developed through the scientific method (developed from The national Academy of Sciences 1999). Theories have been tested repeatedly and confirmed though both experiment and observation. Theories provide an important framework for understanding and communicating knowledge. They can evolve and develop over time building on the original assumption.
The Use of Classification
Classification is used to establish patterns in the natural and human world. Classification provides an order and establishes relationships that help to develop clear predictions. Classification can at times be over simplistic and don't always develop inter-dependencies
The Use of Models
Models are simplified representations of more complex processes or characteristics. As a result models leave out details such a time frames or specific variations that would make model too complicated. Models and be used to both describe and explain processes and places. Models make complex issues easier to understand and they can be used to make predictions on the aspect of the human and natural world that they represent.
The Human Sciences
This refers to the role of the researcher and takes the view that the researcher as a human component of the environment should take into account their own role. This provides observation and is subjective. This is not to dismiss. Our own observation of the environment we are part of studying is relevant. However one needs to take into account how the researchers inside knowledge influences the research
This data is collected through direct interaction with the participants and/or the environment. It includes, observation, in-depth interviews and surveys. It is generally text based but in the example of environmental surveys some score/weighting can be used to quantify the observed information. It's aim is to describe and even explain issues of investigation. It can take into account different views within demographics and interest groups. It rarely provides a definitive conclusion but rather offers interpretation and perspective.
This involves manipulating an independent variable to measure the effect on a dependent variable. At the same all other variables are controlled. It's based on the notion of the scientific method. It helps establish causation, through isolating the independent variable and controlling variables cause and effect can be determined. An example would be testing water quality downstream of a town and repeated the process in an upstream location unaffected by town inputs.