Grant: $499,643 - National Institutes of Health - Sep. 30, 2009
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Award Description: The goal of this project is to develop and evaluate a theory-driven pedagogic minimal Geographic Information Systems (mGIS) interface to enhance spatial thinking, analysis, and learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines by students who are blind or low vision. Spatial thinking represents a type of powerful and pervasive thinking as important as mathematical or verbal thinking. The importance and potential impact of spatial thinking on STEM competencies has been addressed recently in a National Research Council's report (2006), Learning to Think Spatially. In that publication, the NRC unabashedly states that spatial thinking not only underpins National Standards for Science and Mathematics, but also permeates scientific discovery and understanding by providing a catalyst to conceive, identify, develop, and solve scientific problems. Geospatial technology and data are not the future; they are the present. As a result, spatial thinking plays, and will continue to play, a key role in the current and future information-based economy. But unfortunately, as the NRC report illustrates, the K-12 curriculum is woefully negligent in addressing the need to enhance spatial thinking, in spite of its importance in STEM education. The proposed research design is grounded in current spatial thinking and geographic education theory. Project deliverables include an mGIS as well as enhanced theory for spatial thinking and learning across STEM for all students (not just mainstream). A haptic (touch) soundscape (audio) minimal Geographic Information System (mGIS) will provide educators a first-ever pedagogic tool designed to enhance analytical spatial thinking (a building block of STEM competency). Currently, no such tool exists for students who are blind or low vision. The project builds on a large stable base of preliminary data, which informs the development of the mGIS, the haptic-soundscape interface, as well as spatial thinking skills and their effect on STEM competencies. Project activities will focus on three specific aims. Specific Aim 1 is to develop a framework for expanding and deepening spatial thinking theory. We will not only build on existing classroom-based empirical research, but also test a methodology for expanding the empirical research approach. Our methods include combination of robust behavioral testing and fMRI data gathering. Specific Aim 2 is to develop a haptic soundscape mGIS interface for promoting spatial thinking in STEM education for students who are blind or low vision. The mGIS will be developed as a pedagogic tool, not a fully-functioning GIS. While research has shown that GIS can be an effective approach to geospatial analysis, inquiry, and learning, researchers and educators have not investigated how GIS can be applied to the curriculum of students who are blind or low vision, nor what spatial thinking tasks are appropriate for enhancing spatial thinking in STEM related academic fields. These skills have been identified by previous researchers as well as through the PI's current ongoing research. The skills are built on the five levels of spatial concepts, beginning with spatial primitives of identity, location, magnitude, space/time then deriving more complex concepts. The pedagogic mGIS interface will be simplified, removing many of the advanced data analysis capabilities (and buttons) from the interface (i.e. a minimal GIS). Specific Aim 3 is to evaluate the efficacy of the mGIS. Formative evaluation of the educational efficacy of the mGIS will take place throughout the development process. The mGIS will be built on the empirical results of theory-driven research, conducted iteratively. The efficacy evaluation activities will involve recruitment and testing of blind or low vision students from local universities and project partner schools for the blind.
Project Description: Work has not yet begun on this project.
Jobs Summary: No jobs have been created or retained at this time. (Total jobs reported: 0)
Project Status: Not Started
This award's data was last updated on Sep. 30, 2009. Help expand these official descriptions using the wiki below.