A roadmap for addressing a knowledge gap around geospatial technologies (GST) and learning has been created thanks to the collaborative and now award-winning work of a group of researchers and educators from across the nation, including University of Redlands Center for Spatial Studies Director Dr. Steven Moore.
“A Research Agenda for Geospatial Technologies and Learning” addresses the knowledge gap with a research framework to discover how the use of GST impacts learners, how GST should best be taught, how educators should be prepared to teach with GST and how teaching and learning with GST is best supported through curriculum. The National Council for Geographic Education has named the agenda “2016 Best Article for Geography Program Development.”
“Most of the research evidence about the benefits of using GST in K-12 and higher education is anecdotal and/or derived from short-term evaluation studies. Accordingly, the research has not been systematic, replicable, and attentive to relevant findings in other fields,” Moore said. “The Research Agenda paper attempts to address this deficit by laying out guiding and fundamental research principles; four key research foci—connections between geospatial technologies and geospatial thinking, learning with and about geospatial technologies, professional development for educators who use geospatial technologies, and relevant curriculum and student learning; and recommendations to advance the research agenda.”
Moore worked with Dr. Alec Bodzin from Lehigh University in the section on professional development for educators to use geospatial technologies with students, addressing questions about best practices, models and modalities, and types of knowledge needed. In commenting on the paper, Moore used the University of Redlands as an example of how the research could be applied.
“At the University of Redlands, we have made a commitment to infuse spatial thinking throughout the university community, not only in instruction and research, but also in our operations and outreach programs. This commitment is based on an intuitive appreciation of the importance of spatial thinking in modern life and 21st-century professional practice. In an age where everything has a spatial context and big spatial data is being accumulated constantly, people who wish to make a difference in this world must be able to develop, interpret, and use visualizations of spatial data.
“Accordingly, we work hard to develop such competencies in our students and help our faculty, staff, and administrators implement spatial technologies and ways of thinking in their professional practice. Unfortunately, there is little systematic and replicable research to guide us on how best to do this. The Research Agenda paper attempts to address that deficit.”
The project was spearheaded by Esri Education Manager Tom Baker, who is also an adjunct faculty member at the University of Kansas; Sarah Battersby, senior research scientist at Tableau Research in Seattle, Washington; Sarah W. Bednarz, professor of geography at Texas A&M University; Alec M. Bodzin, professor in the teaching, learning, and technology program at Lehigh University; Bob Kolvoord, dean of the College of Integrated Science and Engineering at James Madison University, Diana Sinton, executive director of the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science, and an adjunct professor of GIS at Cornell University; and David Uttal, professor of psychology and of education at Northwestern University.