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A Workshop on Spatial Learning in Geography: A Cross-Community Conversation

November 6-8, 2008
National Geographic Society Headquarters,
Washington, D.C.

pre-Workshop Documents
Workshop Presentations
Notes from the Workshop

Workshop Goals      About the Sponsors      Background Information


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pre-Workshop Documents

The following document has been up-dated as of 1/08/2009: Participant Biographies.

  • ♦  Workshop Agenda  Open .pdf document
  • ♦  Presentation Abstracts  Open .pdf document
  • ♦  Participant Biographies  Open .pdf document

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Background Information

In 2006, the National Research Council published a report entitled Learning to Thinking Spatially, that was sponsored by the Geographical Sciences Committee of the National Academy of Sciences. This report argued that “[w]e must understand the processes of spatial thinking, we must develop systems for supporting the process, and we must ensure that all students have opportunity to learn about spatial thinking.

In that same year, the National Science Foundation funded the inter-disciplinary Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center (SILC) to pursue the goals of:

  • Understanding spatial learning
  • Using this knowledge to develop programs and technologies that will transform educational practice, helping learners to develop the skills required to compete in a global economy

SILC is a consortium of researchers from cognitive science, spanning psychology, computer science, education, and neuroscience, as well as practicing geoscientists and engineers who are particularly interested in spatial thinking in their fields.

The NRC report on Spatial Thinking argues that research on spatial intelligence and learning is essential for the future of the geographical sciences and the practice of geography in the modern world. SILC was established to conduct research on spatial intelligence and learning.


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Workshop Goals

In order to establish a dialog about issues of shared interest and opportunities for collaboration, the National Geographic Society is convening a workshop that will bring members of the geography community behind the NRC report and the SILC community together for an informal, open-ended conversation. Specifically, this workshop is designed to establish a dialogue about the implementation of research on spatial intelligence in the context of geography education and the application of research on spatial intelligence to the challenges of geography education.


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Workshop Presentations

The following are Power Point Presentations given at the Workshop (click on presenter last name for the .ppt document):
♦ Baker
♦ Bednarz, Jo and Metoyer
♦ Bunch and Lloyd
♦ Chatterjee, Amorapanth and Widick
♦ Edelson
♦ Freundschuh
♦ Gallagher
♦ Gentner
♦ Gentner2
♦ Gersmehl and Gersmehl
♦ Goodchild
♦ Kastens
♦ Kolvoord
♦ Levine and Ratliff
♦ Liben
♦ Lobben
♦ Milson
♦ Murphy  [NB: Large file size (142 MB)]
♦ Nardi
♦ Newcombe
♦ Shipley, Fitzhugh, Chein, Morrison and Newcombe
♦ Solem


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Notes from the Workshop

Below are notes taken at the Workshop. Open the .pdf icon to view.

♦ Discussion Notes for Group I   Open .pdf document
♦ Discussion Notes for Group II   Open .pdf document
♦ Breakout Session on Assessment, Gender and Age   Open .pdf document
♦ Breakout Session on GeoSpatial Technology in Spatial Thinking and Geographic Learning   Open .pdf document
♦ Breakout Session on The Role of Spatial Thinking in Geographic Literacy   Open .pdf document


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About the Workshop Sponsors

This workshop is being sponsored by the National Geographic Society and the Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center, with support from the American Association of Geographers. One of the core objectives of SILC is to develop a network of researchers and educators interested in spatial intelligence and learning. Both the National Geographic Society and the American Association of Geographers are committed to improving quality of geographic education in the U.S., which will depend on increased understanding of spatial intelligence and learning. Therefore, they are joining together in sponsoring this workshop as a first step in facilitating ongoing collaboration among the SILC and geography communities.

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