College Students? GIS Spatial Concept Knowledge Assessed by Concept Maps
MetadataShow full item record
The development of spatial thinking proficiency has been increasingly demanded in Geographic Information System (GIS) education. Despite this educational trend, there is little empirical research on college students' spatial concept knowledge, which critically affects the quality of spatial thinking. This study addressed the following three research questions: 1) What differences exist between students' understandings of spatial concepts at the beginning, middle, and end of an introductory-level GIS course?, 2) What spatial misconceptions students may possess while taking an introductory-level GIS course?, and 3) Which spatial concepts are easy or hard for undergraduate students to understand? The researcher asked twelve participants who were taking an introductory-level GIS course to create concept maps about space and revised their concept maps in three experiment sessions. For the first question, the researcher scored the sixty obtained concept maps and statistically analyzed those scores to examine if there is any significant difference among the scores of the three experiment sessions. For the second question, the researcher examined participants' misconceptions by analyzing the incorrect statements of distortion, map projection, and scale. For the third question, the researcher statistically analyzed concept-based scores to examine if there is any significant difference among the scores of three different complexity levels. A main finding for the first question was that there was a significant difference among the scores of the concept maps created in the first session and the scores of the concept maps revised in the second and third sessions. This implied that participants could successfully revise their own original concept maps in the middle of a semester. The result of the study of the second question indicated that a half of participants misunderstood the concepts of map projections and scale. This result suggested that some undergraduate students may have difficulty shifting from scientifically inappropriate spatial concept knowledge to appropriate knowledge. Analysis of the third question resulted that the concept-based scores of simple spatial concepts are significantly higher than the scores of complicated spatial concepts. This result inferred that participants' scores decreased as the complexity of the concepts increased.