Learning to Think Spatially

Front Cover

Spatial thinkingā€"a constructive combination of concepts of space, tools of representation, and processes of reasoningā€"uses space to structure problems, find answers, and express solutions. It is powerful and pervasive in science, the workplace, and everyday life. By visualizing relationships within spatial structures, we can perceive, remember, and analyze the static and dynamic properties of objects and the relationships between objects. Despite its crucial role underpinning the National Standards for Science and Mathematics, spatial thinking is currently not systematically incorporated into the K-12 curriculum.

Learning to Think Spatially: GIS as a Support System in the K-12 Curriculum examines how spatial thinking might be incorporated into existing standards-based instruction across the school curriculum. Spatial thinking must be recognized as a fundamental part of K-12 education and as an integrator and a facilitator for problem solving across the curriculum. With advances in computing technologies and the increasing availability of geospatial data, spatial thinking will play a significant role in the information- based economy of the 21st-century. Using appropriately designed support systems tailored to the K-12 context, spatial thinking can be taught formally to all students. A geographic information system (GIS) offers one example of a high-technology support system that can enable students and teachers to practice and apply spatial thinking in many areas of the curriculum.

 

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Contents

Executive Summary
1
1 Introduction
11
Part I The Nature and Functions of Spatial Thinking
23
2 The Nature of Spatial Thinking
25
3 Spatial Thinking in Everyday Life at Work and in Science
49
4 Teaching and Learning About Spatial Thinking
94
5 Responding to the Need for Spatial Thinkers
110
The Concept of a Support System
135
11 The Spatial Thinker
237
References
243
Appendixes
257
Appendix A Biographical Sketches of Committee Members and Staff
259
Appendix B Oral Presentations and Written Statements
264
The Effects of Age Development and Sex
266
Appendix D The Role of Spatial Representations in Learning Problem Solving and Transfer
281
Appendix E Software Descriptions and Resources
285

Part II Support for Spatial Thinking
153
7 HighTech Support Systems for Spatial Thinking
155
8 An Assessment of GIS as a System for Supporting Spatial Thinking in the K12 Context
166
9 GIS as a Support System for Spatial Thinking
217
Part III Supporting Spatial Thinking in the Future
227
10 Conclusions and Recommendations
229
Appendix F What is GIScience?
287
Appendix G The Introduction of GIS into K12 Education
289
A Customized EighthGrade GIS Module
293
Appendix I List of Acronyms
298
Index
301
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