GSA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA - 2018

Paper No. 83-10
Presentation Time: 10:30 AM


MCNEAL, Peggy M., Department of Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences, Towson University, 8000 York Road, Towson, MD 21252 and PETCOVIC, Heather, Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences and The Mallinson Institute for Science Education, Western Michigan University, 1187 Rood Hall, Kalamazoo, MI 49008

Researching spatial thinking in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education necessitates navigating multiple frameworks that classify spatial thinking skills from different perspectives. The spatial sciences, including geographic information systems and cartography, employ frameworks that emphasize location and navigation. In contrast, geoscience education research (GER) highlights key disciplinary spatial skills such as those necessary to visualize landforms from topographic maps, or interpret folded and overturned rock units. Psychometric intelligence scholars develop taxonomies based on measurable human intelligence factors, while some cognitive scientists distinguish between object and spatial visualizers. New typologies support categorization of spatial thinking skills by intrinsic-extrinsic and static-dynamic relationships, and recently, a heuristic framework synthesizes spatial factor literature in support of STEM education.

Making sense of multiple spatial thinking perspectives and frameworks became a crucial part of our research into spatial thinking in meteorology, from project conception through the review and publication process. As geoscience education researchers investigate teaching and learning broadly across environmental, ocean, atmosphere, and climate science, an important question is how well current GER spatial thinking frameworks map onto broader geoscience disciplines. A complementary question is how well cognitive science frameworks can inform spatial thinking critical to GER. This presentation will highlight decision making processes during spatial thinking research in meteorology and reflect on multiple approaches at the forefront of the field.