Have a Question?
Ask the Graduate
College at our new
Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Kevin Douglas Weakley
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Mallinson Institute for Science Education
Title: The Effects of an Inquiry-Based Earth Science Course on the Spatial Thinking of Pre-Service Elementary Teacher Education Students
Dr. Joseph Stoltman, Chair
Dr. Heather Petcovic
Dr. Kathleen Baker
Date: Friday, February 19, 2010 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
2734 Wood Hall
This study examines whether an inquiry-based earth science course was effective at improving student spatial thinking skills in comparison with a traditional lecture world regional geography course. Spatial thinking is an important cognitive skill in the sciences and every day life. A taxonomy of spatial thinking was constructed by Gersmehl (2008) in geography education, which includes core modes assessed in this study: comparison, region, transition, analogy, pattern, and association. Two additional modes related to space over time, change and movement, are also assessed. The central research question in this study is: What are the effects of a pre-service teacher education earth science course (Geography 1900) that is conceptually designed and inquiry-based on the spatial thinking of university students? The six sub-questions to this central question are: 1) What modes of spatial thinking do pre-service elementary teacher education students apply at the beginning of Geography 1900? 2) What spatial thinking modes are embedded in the Geography 1900 course based on the Gersmehl (2008) classification of modes of spatial thinking? 3) What changes occur in spatial thinking and spatial skills as a result of enrolling in and successfully completing a conceptually based, inquiry course that has embedded clearly identifiable spatial tasks according to Gersmehl’s (2008) classification? 4) What modes of spatial thinking do Geography 1900 students apply on the post-test at the completion of the course? 5) What modes of spatial thinking do students transfer from the classroom to the outdoors as they move about campus? 6) Are there differences in spatial thinking between the experimental sample that experiences Geography 1900 and a comparison sample of students that receives a different treatment?
The analysis of this study is a mixed methods approach using quantitative and qualitative methods. Results in the fall semester 2008 suggest statistically significant improvement of the earth science students at KVCC and Geography 1020 between the pre and post-tests. In spring semester 2009, both groups, Geography 1900 and Geography 1020, suggest statistically significant improvement between pre and post-test scores. Results also suggest no statistically significant differences between the pre-tests and differences (post minus pre) of the experimental and comparison groups.