Spatial Thinking

Professional Development to Improve the Spatial Thinking of Earth Science Teachers and Students
Supported by National Science Foundation GEO-1034994

Dr. Kim A. Kastens, Principal Investigator

Dr. Michael J. Passow, Co-Principal Investigator

Linda Pistolesi

     The goal of this project is to create and test a professional development program for Earth Science teachers, targeted at improving the spatial thinking of Earth Science students. Research has shown that spatial thinking is important in science in general, and Earth Science in particular, and that performance on spatially-demanding tasks can be fostered through instruction. Teachers of the New York State Regents course in “Physical Setting/Earth Science” and others will serve as co-developers/participants in the pilot test of the program, which is offered in association with the well-established Earth2Class workshop series at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
Teachers are learning to diagnose students’ difficulties with spatial thinking and to support students in learning to think spatially. If this pilot project is successful, our long term vision is that school districts committed to data-driven professional development will be able to identify teachers whose students are struggling with spatially-demanding items on standardized tests such as the Earth Science Regents, and use our spatial thinking professional development techniques to help those teachers improve their practice. The work taps into basic and applied research on how humans perceive and reason with spatial information, and leverage these insights in serve of Earth Science education.

                                                                                                          From the 1941 Regents Earth Science examination     Picture1

 

Workshops

Introduction to Project

[Agenda for Aug 2011 Opening Session]

Presentation: “Overview of the Spatial Thinking Project”

Presentation: “Brief Overview of the Regents Earth Science Program”

Presentation: “Finding the Spatial” in Earth Science Regents Exams

Presentation: “Analyzing Your Own Data (If You Wish To)”

Criteria for Inclusion/Exclusion (for Coding Test Items)

Key to Codes Used to Identify Spatial Concepts, Spatial Representations, and Spatial Skills Associated with Regents Items

Slideshow to accompany Kastens, Pistolesi, Passow (2014) JGE article (summary of goals, methods, results, discussion)

    

September 2011 — Sequencing         

Agenda                              Picture3                         Picture2

Presentation: Sequencing–Trading Space for Time

Sequence of Events in the Geologic History of the NY Metropolitan Area

Outcrop Images for Sequencing from Earth Science World Image Bank

Figures for Student Activities in Sequencing      

Passow, M.J., and K.A. Kastens (2013) “Challenge: Sequencing—Using Spatial Relationships to Understand Temporal PatternsThe Earth Scientist, v. 29, no. 3, pp. 24 – 29.

Additional Resource: Earthlearningidea #238 “What questions about sequencing geological events might be asked at any rock exposure?

 

October 2011– Representational Correspondence, part 1
Agenda

Presentation: Representational Correspondence–Comparing and Combining Spatial Representations

What’s the Difference?        

Figures for Student Activities about Similar/Different

 

            watersheds          bedrock geology                    same-different-rock-images

 

November 2011 –Representational Correspondence, part 2
Agenda

Presentation: Representational Correspondence II

Multiple views of the same object or area: Same vantage point

Multiple views of the same object or area: Different vantage point

 

Moon_Phases_fig    

December 2011 — Perspective Taking, part 1

Agenda

Presentation: Perspective Taking

Perspective Taking/Spatial Orientation Test developed by Mary Hegarty, Maria Kozhevnikov, David Waller
Directions developed by Kim Kastens

The Role of Spatial Thinking in Undergraduate Science Education by Mary Hegarty, University of California, Santa Barbara

   

January 2012 — Perspective Taking, part 2

Agenda

Presentation: Use of 3-D Models to Foster Perspective Taking, Answering Questions, Interpreting Data

Roessel, B., K. Kastens, and M.J. Passow (2013)” Challenge: Seeing Spatial Relationships in Three-Dimensional Physical ModelsThe Earth Scientist, v. 29, no. 1, pp. 17 – 20. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA          OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA          OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Moon Phases Calendar, from www.Moonconnection.com

   

February 2012 — Topographic and Other Isoline Maps

Agenda

Presentation: Topographic and Contour Maps

                                                  Topo_map                    profile

 

March 2012 — Finding Meaning in Clumps and Patterns

Agenda

Presentation: Making Meaning from Map Patterns

Picture2                    Picture1

“Pacific and Australia Maps” Activity
SST for ENSO exercise
Australia rain for ENSO exercise
Small maps for ENSO

April 2012 — Making the Difficult Less Difficult

Agenda

“Making the Difficult Less Difficult”
The 15 Most Difficult Items from the June 2009 RES Exam
The 15 Most Difficult Items from the June 2010 RES Exam
The 15 Most Difficult Items from the June 2011 RES Exam
Key to the project’s Spatial Thinking Coding


Papers, Talks, and Posters about this Project

Kastens, K., L. Pistolesi, M.J.Passow (2014) “Analysis of Spatial Concepts, Spatial Skills and Spatial Representations in New York State Regents Earth Science Examinations” J. Geosci. Ed., v. 62, pp. 278 – 289.

Passow, M.J., and K.A. Kastens (2013) “Challenge: Sequencing—Using Spatial Relationships to Understand Temporal PatternsThe Earth Scientist, v. 29, no. 3, pp. 24 – 29.

Roessel, B., K. Kastens, and M.J. Passow (2013)” Challenge: Seeing Spatial Relationships in Three-Dimensional Physical ModelsThe Earth Scientist, v. 29, no. 1, pp. 17 – 20. 

Kastens, K., and M.J.Passow (2012) “Opening a Conversation about Spatial Thinking in Earth Science.” The Earth Scientist, v. 28, no. 4, pp. 37 – 40.

Kastens, Pistolesi, and Passow (2011) Spatial Thinking in the New York State High School Earth Science Exam. Geological Society of America Annual Meeting Paper 67-8, in T167. Time, Events, and Places: Understanding Temporal and Spatial Learning in Geoscience Education(National Association of Geoscience Teachers; Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center)

Conference presentations and publications

STANYS 2014:
“Spatial Thinking & NYS Regents Earth Science: Finding the Spatial” (slideshow)

Participant Resources
Teacher Feedback Form (to describe activities with students)

Other Interesting Resources

Link to archived exams 1941 – date

3 images from the 1941 Regents Earth Science Exam

Sample Activities to Learn about Spatial Thinking & Regents Earth Science

 

Teach Spatial

Spatial Concept Terms

Earth and Mind: The Blog

 Learning to Think Spatially: GIS as  Support System in the K – 12 Curriculum

Introducing Spatial Thinking Skills across the Curriculum (Association of American Geographers)

GeoSTART: Geospatial Thinking Activities and Resources for Teachers of Geography and Earth Science  (Association of American Geographers)

Good Thinking (Smithsonian Science Education Center)

 

[Last revised: Jan 2016]