Children's Comprehension of Spatial Location in Different Spaces




Bell, Scott

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The Grosvenor Center for Geographic Education


Research in geography education must be inspired by the elements and standards outlined in Geography for Life, National Geography Standards. The first essential element, “The world in spatial terms” outlines the analysis and internal and external representation of geographic and spatial information as a primary goal of geographic educators. Before this is possible it is important to understand how geographic and spatial knowledge is acquired in the variety of spaces in which children learn and in which geographic information is presented. This experiment examines the geographic understanding of space by 3rd grade students in two distinctly different geographic spaces, as expressed through their recall of spatial location. A desktop space is used to simulate the space at which the majority of school learning occurs while an outdoor environment (laid out on the school playground) is used to simulate the more extensive space of everyday geographic interactions. Results of this study will improve our understanding of how size and scale affect geographic and spatial knowledge acquisition and will inform geographic educators who are interested in developing curriculum involving different types of spaces.



geography education, spatial cognition, scale


Bell, S. (1999). Children's comprehension of spatial location in different spaces. Research in Geographic Education, 1(2), pp. 94-117.


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