Date: May 2015
Creator: Webster, Megan L
Description: Geography education is undergoing change in K-12 education due in part to the introduction of geospatial technologies, including geographic information systems (GIS). Although active engagement in GIS mapping would seem to enhance students’ spatial thinking, little is known about the mapping strategies that students employ or about changes in their geographic knowledge that would result. This study, set in a high school Advanced Placement human geography class, sought to contribute to these areas of inquiry. Participants performed a web-based GIS task focused on global population and migration. Attention in the study was on (a) the strategies students employed when investigating geographic phenomena using GIS, (b) changes in their cognitive maps, as assessed through sketch maps, resulting from the activity, (c) the relationship between GIS maps and sketch maps, and (d) the ways in which a subset of students serving as case studies explained the nature of their mapping. The study employed screen-captures, video-recordings, observations, pre- and post-study sketch maps, and interviews. Analyses of the GIS process revealed that, in creating their maps, the students used a number of strategies, which included searching, layering, removing layers of data, adjusting transparency, editing, and noting. Although searching and layering were employed by all ...
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