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Michelle Kinzel's M.S. Degree, 2009

Using Educational Tools and Integrative Experiences via Geovisualizations that Incorporate Spatial Thinking, Real World Science and Ocean Literacy Standards in the Classroom: A Case Study Examined

Master of Science, Geography, Oregon State University, Winter, 2009
Geographic Information Science Certificate

Graduate committee: D. Wright, L. Becker, B. Mate

Michelle Kinzel
Dept of Geosciences, Oregon State Univ
Corvallis, OR 97331-5506

The field of geography has been transformed in recent years through the use of spatial tools such as geographic information systems (GIS), satellite and acoustic remote sensing, the global positioning system (GPS), Internet mapping and more. Studying geography and earth science in the digital age now requires a sophisticated and complex integration of concepts that include spatial and temporal aspects (Harrower, et al., 2000). Using the same tools and data sets as earth scientists, students can explore spatial patterns, linkages, trends and processes on a local, regional or global scale. Despite our capabilities and advances, many questions remain about how to use these new geospatial tools and apply representational techniques to problem solving and knowledge construction. Particularly in educational settings, the potential of applying tools and techniques in problem-solving exercises remains largely underutilized. This paper examines the application of multimedia technologies and interactive geovisualizations based on ocean literacy principles in high school curricula to develop spatial thinking and promote geographic literacy. The objectives explored include the advantages of using geovisualizations, how multimedia digital technologies can be utilized in meeting educational standards and what pedagogical goals can be met with use of interactive tools in the classroom. The main findings of this study include improvements in quantitative scores using a testing instrument designed to assess competency in geographic standards and mastery of spatial thinking abilities. The students in this study demonstrated the acquisition of deeper levels of understanding and improvements in comprehension of content related to oceanography, geography and spatial thinking. These results show promise for the use of geovisualizations and real science tools in a multidisciplinary fashion in standards driven curriculum development for the science classroom.

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