Sunday, December 9, 2012

Skill of correlation

The geographical skill of correlation

In a previous Spatialworlds posting an attempt was made to delinate the skills involved in 'doing geography'. One of those skills was described as source/data critiquingthe ability of geographers to collect, interrogate and analyse data and visual representations (maps, visualisations, images). In this post I propose that the skill of correlation comes under this broader skill set. Correlation is a skill used by geographers when they view multiple data sets to answer causation and trending questions (other critical geographical skills). Whilst single data and visual representations are useful in themselves, the abilty to look across data sets is a very powerful tool for geographers to answer spatial questions through the correlation of data layers. The use of GIS has greatly increased the capacity of students to look for correlation between data sets (represented as layers in GIS) to answer rather elaborate questions. The two interactive sites highlighted in this posting are great examples of the resources available on the Internet to do some 'rich' inquiry by using the geographical skill of correlation.

The where and why map of Global Cancer Rates

The interactive map called Cancer’s Global Footprint is a fantastic representation of data related to cancer incidence and mortality rates across the globe. These rates are represented as New cancer cases annually per 100,000 people.The map shows Breast, Prostate, Cervical, Liver, Lung Stomach Cancer incidence and mortality across the globe. Whilst interesting in itself, the maps provide the opportunity to ask students the question of why are the rates varied across the globe. For example, does the incidence and the deadliness of the cancers mapped correlate to data such as development, income, diet, income, poverty and health care. While the site has a go at explaining the variance of rates across the globe, the map also opens the door for the teacher to use other layers of data to see what the correlations may be. GIS programs available in the classroom can do some pretty neat correlations with the click of the mouse. If you do not want to use GIS to map correlations, why not use the WorldMapper site to see if the students can propose some correlations by looking at some of the different cartograms using a variety of criteria. Worldmapper is a collection of world maps, where territories are re-sized on each map according to specific criteria.There are now nearly 700 maps including relevant representations for the cancer rates such as wealth, education , income, health, poverty and disease.

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