Innovation & Research

New program in School of Education

spatial thinking

Spatial thinking is part of our everyday lives—from freeway driving, to navigating around unfamiliar places, to playing chess or analyzing a football game, to organizing one’s workspace.

When it comes to the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), spatial reasoning is even on par with verbal and quantitative, according to the National Science Board and other psychology and educational experts.

The US Department of Labor and workforce studies consistently identify “geospatial technologies” as one of the fastest growing industries, now and into the future.

Spatial thinking can and should be enhanced at all levels of formal and informal education, so the University of Redlands has begun to prepare teachers to purposefully address spatial thinking.

In 2010, we launched a new program in the Master of Arts in Education for Curriculum and Instruction, a specialization option in spatial literacy. These four new courses can also be taken as a stand-alone graduate certificate in spatial literacy for educators.

Students learn the foundations of spatial thinking and how to apply spatial learning approaches to existing curriculum in all subject areas. Often these new ideas will involve geographic information systems (GIS) and other mapping technologies.

“The Spatial Learning class opened my eyes to a new world of thinking. I now do not go anywhere without thinking spatially using the knowledge from this class,” said Curtis Marcell, an assistant principal at Citrus Valley High School in Redlands, Calif. and a member of the program’s first cohort of students.

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