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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Spatial Thinking across the College Curriculum, Position Papers


More than 40 position papers were prepared by participants prior to meeting in Santa Barbara. The objective was  to explore from a multi-discipline perspective the potential values and challenges of formulating curricula to advance the role of spatial reasoning in undergraduate education.

The authors consider the following general questions:

• What are best current practices in spatial education at the college level?

• What role do technologies, such as geographic information systems and virtual environment technologies, play in developing spatial thinking skills?

• Can we identify a set of general spatial skills that are relevant to spatial thinking across several disciplines?

• Are spatial skills best trained in the context of a discipline or in a domain of general knowledge? For example, if a student is taught to imagine cross sections in the context of a geology course, does this skill transfer to imagining sections in engineering or biology?

• What are the connections between “spatial thinking” courses and curricula organized for disciplines? For example, do all geography or geometry courses naturally or automatically support spatial thinking processes?

• What are learning outcomes for spatial thinking curricula, and what form should assessment take?

• What are the administrative challenges and opportunities for implementing spatial thinking courses and programs at the college level?

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