Technology, Knowledge and Learning

, Volume 18, Issue 1–2, pp 65–93 | Cite as

Counter-Mapping the Neighborhood on Bicycles: Mobilizing Youth to Reimagine the City

  • Katie Headrick TaylorEmail author
  • Rogers Hall


Personal mobility is a mundane characteristic of daily life. However, mobility is rarely considered an opportunity for learning in the learning sciences, and is almost never leveraged as relevant, experiential material for teaching. This article describes a social design experiment for spatial justice that focused on changes in the personal mobility of six non-driving, African-American teenagers, who participated in an afterschool bicycle building and riding workshop located in a mid-south city. Our study was designed to teach spatial literacy practices essential for counter-mapping—a discursive practice in which youth used tools similar to those of professional planners to “take place” in the future of their neighborhoods. Using conversation and multimodal discourse analyses with video records, GPS track data, and interactive maps authored by youth, we show how participants in our study had new experiences of mobility in the city, developed technically-articulate criticisms of the built environment in their neighborhoods, and imagined new forms of mobility and activity for the future.


Mobility Youth Urban neighborhoods Spatial literacy Counter-mapping Bicycles Geospatial technology Social design experiment for spatial justice Thirdspace Ground truth Analysis of personal time geography Desire layers 



This research was funded by the National Science Foundation (DRL-0816406). We thank members of the Spatial Learning and Mobility group at Vanderbilt University for help with design and analysis—Tyler Hollett, Jennifer Kahn, Kevin Leander, Jasmine Ma, Jillian Oury, Nathan Phillips, and Karen Wieckert. We also thank David Uttal, who provided reactions to the study and our arguments as an advisor to the grant. City planners generously allowed us to study their work, and we thank them both for their time and intellectual support during the design study. We are deeply indebted to the director and adult volunteers of the Workshop, and most importantly to the teens, their parents, and other adult relatives who participated in this study. Finally, we thank Victor Lee and two anonymous reviewers for critical but very helpful advice on our analysis and arguments.


  1. Cobb, P., Confrey, J., Disessa, A., Lehrer, R., & Schauble, L. (2003). Design experiments in educational research. Educational Researcher, 32(1), 9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cole, M., & Griffin, P. (1983). A socio-historical approach to re-mediation. Quarterly Newsletter of the Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition, 5(4), 69–74.Google Scholar
  3. Dennis, S. F. (2006). Prospects for qualitative GIS at the intersection of youth development and participatory urban planning. Environment and Planning A, 38(11), 2039–2054.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Derry, S. J., Pea, R., Barron, B., Engle, R., Erickson, F., Goldman, R., et al. (2010). Conducting video research in the learning sciences: Guidance on selection, analysis, technology, and ethics. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 19, 1–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Gutierrez, K., & Vossoughi, S. (2010). Lifting off the ground to return anew: Mediated praxis, transformative learning, and social design experiments. Journal of Teacher Education, 61(1–2), 100–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hägerstrand, T. (1970). What about people in regional science? Papers in Regional Science, 24(1), 6–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hall, R. & Greeno, J. G. (2008). Conceptual learning. In T. Good (Ed.), 21st Century Education: A Reference Handbook, (pp. 212–221). Sage. Google Scholar
  8. Hall, R. & Leander, K. M. (2010). Comparative analyses of spatial thinking in diverse professional practices. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, Denver.Google Scholar
  9. Harding, S. (1993). Rethinking standpoint epistemology: What is “strong objectivity”? In L. Alcoff & E. Potter (Eds.), Feminist epistemologies (pp. 49–82). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  10. Hart, R. (1977). Children’s experience of place. New York, NY: Irvington.Google Scholar
  11. Harvey, D. (2008). The right to the city. The New Left Review, 53, 23–40.Google Scholar
  12. Holloway, S. L., & Valentine, G. (Eds.). (2000). Children’s geographies: Playing, living, learning. New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Jordan, B., & Henderson, A. (1995). Interaction analysis: Foundations and practice. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 4(1), 39–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Karsten, L. (2005). It all used to be better? Different generations on continuity and change in urban children’s daily use of space. Children’s Geographies, 3, 275–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kingston, R. (2007). Public participation in local policy decision-making: The role of web-based mapping. The Cartographic Journal, 4(2), 138–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kwan, M. (2004). Beyond difference: From canonical geography to hybrid geographies. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 94(4), 756–763.Google Scholar
  17. Labov, W. (1972). The transformation of experience in narrative syntax. In W. Labov (Ed.), Language in the inner city (pp. 354–396). Philadelphia, PA: University of Philadelphia Press.Google Scholar
  18. Lauriault, T. P., & Wood, J. (2009). GPS tracings—Personal cartographies. The Cartographic Journal, 46(4), 360–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Leander, K. M., Phillips, N. C., & Taylor, K. H. (2010). The changing social spaces of learning: Mapping new mobilities. Review of Research in Education, 34, 329–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lee, V. R., & DuMont, M. (2010). An exploration into how physical activity data-recording devices could be used in computer-supported data investigations. International Journal of Computers for Mathematical Learning, 15(3), 167–189. doi: 10/1007/s10758-010-9172-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lefebvre, H. (1996). Writings on Cities (E. Kofman & E. Lebas, Trans.). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar
  22. Middleton, D., & Edwards, D. (1990). Collective remembering: Inquiries in social construction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  23. Moje, E. B., Ciechanowski, K. M., Kramer, K., Ellis, L., Carillo, R., & Collazo, T. (2004). Working toward third space in content area literacy: An examination of everyday funds of knowledge and discourse. Reading Research Quarterly, 39, 38–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. National Research Council. (2006). Learning to think spatially. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  25. Norris, S. (2004). Analyzing multimodal interaction: A methodological framework. New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  26. Peluso, N. L. (2005). Whose woods are these? Counter-mapping forest territories in Kalimantan, Indonesia. In M. Edelman (Ed.), The anthropology of development and globalization: From classical political economy to contemporary neoliberalism (pp. 273–281). New York, NY: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  27. Pickle, J. (Ed.). (1995). Ground truth: The social implications of geographic information systems. New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  28. Sanoff, H. (2000). Community participation methods in design and planning. New York: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  29. Santo, C. A., Ferguson, N., & Trippel, A. (2010). Engaging urban youth through technology: The youth neighborhood mapping initiative. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 30(1), 52–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Schegloff, E. (1992). Repair after next turn: The last structurally provided defense of intersubjectivity in conversation. American Journal of Sociology, 97(5), 1295–1345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Soja, E. (2010). Seeking spatial justice. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  32. Streeck, J., Goodwin, C., & Lebaron, C. (Eds.). (2011). Multimodality and human activity: Research on human behavior. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Taylor, K.H. & Hall, R. (2011, February). Forming publics: Negotiating what develops at the interface of participatory planning. Paper presented at the 32nd Annual Ethnography in Education Research Forum, University of Pennsylvania.Google Scholar
  34. Wood, D., Fels, J., & Krygier, J. (2010). Rethinking the power of maps. New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Teaching and LearningVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations