Fostering a Spatially Literate Generation: Explicit Instruction in Spatial Thinking for Preservice Teachers
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This research proposes that the explicit incorporation of spatial thinking into teacher preparation programs is an effective and efficient way to foster and develop a spatially literate populace. The major objective of this study was to examine the effect of explicit instruction in spatial thinking on the development of preservice teachers' knowledge, skills, and dispositions toward teaching it. A one-day workshop - Teaching Spatial Thinking with Geography - for preservice geography teachers was developed as the intervention of this study. The primary focus of the workshop was to provide an explicit opportunity to learn about spatial thinking and to practice skills required to incorporate spatial thinking into participants' classrooms. Three assessments were used to examine changes in participants' knowledge, skills, and dispositions, before and after the workshop: the spatial concepts test, the teaching spatial thinking disposition survey, and participant-produced lesson plans. Individual interviews were conducted to obtain a deeper understanding of participants' learning experiences during the workshop. A mixed-method research design was adopted in which both quantitative and qualitative methods were used to offset the weaknesses inherent within one method with the strengths of the other. The major findings of this study include: 1) explicit instruction about spatial concepts is necessary to the development of preservice teachers' knowledge required for teaching spatial thinking through geography; 2) the skills development required to teach spatial thinking should be approached as the development of pedagogical content knowledge; 3) dispositions toward teaching spatial thinking should be differentiated from dispositions toward teaching general thinking skills; 4) although explicit instruction about teaching spatial thinking contributed substantially to the preservice teachers' acquisition of knowledge and skills and the development of positive dispositions toward teaching spatial, each of these components develops at a different rate but affect each other; and 5) a promising approach to the development of preservice teachers' pedagogical content knowledge would be to offer geography education courses, not general geography or methods courses, in which the focus is explicitly on teaching geography with an emphasis on spatial thinking.
Geography teacher knowledge, skills, and dispositions
Jo, Injeong (2011). Fostering a Spatially Literate Generation: Explicit Instruction in Spatial Thinking for Preservice Teachers. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from