Spatial Competence in Texas High School Students




Cole, Bonnie

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Research on geographic education has exploded since the 1980s, producing everything from articles to books to national curricular standards. Geographic learning, however, begins long before any student steps into a classroom. Spatial competence, the perceptions of the relationships of objects that determine our understanding of place, is a critical life skill that begins to develop at an early age. Several studies have shown a gap between the development of spatial competence in girls and boys, a gap that continues to grow throughout childhood and adolescence. I will investigate the concept of spatial competence and examine the existence of a gap between high school girls and boys in Texas. Using the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), I will study both the specific TAKS questions that test spatial competence and the performance difference between girls and boys on those certain questions. In looking at the results, I hope to find in what areas and at what age girls perform lower than boys on spatial competence questions. Knowledge of existing spatial incompetence could potentially help educators across Texas help improve their students’ performance and confidence in geography classes.



spatial competence, geography education, spatial skills, taks, map skills, Texas, high schools, students, Honors College


Cole, B. (2007). Spatial competence in Texas high school students (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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