Geographic information systems (GIS) education is at a crossroads in the United States. Since its inception in the early 1990s, GIS has diffused slowly into select groups of K-12 classrooms through the efforts of geography and environmental educators. However, many of the assumptions underpinning the initial period of enthusiasm for the technology are now being questioned. This paper reviews issues identified as barriers to dissemination in order to help shape and inform the next phase of GIS implementation. First, the existing arguments for GIS in elementary and secondary education in the United States are reviewed and evaluated. Second, considerations related to developing an improved pedagogical foundation for GIS are explored. Finally, implications and suggestions for guidelines for the next decade of dissemination and implementation of GIS are discussed.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Acheson G. and Bednarz S.W., 2003: Maps. California Social Studies Journal.
Audet R.H., 1993: Developing a theoretical basis for introducing geographic information systems into high schools: Cognitive implications. Ph. D dissertation. Boston University, School of Education.
Audet R. and Luwig G., 2000: GIS in Schools. ESRI Press, Redlands, CA.
Baker T.R., 2002: The effects of Geographic Information System (GIS) technologies on students' attitudes, self-efficacy, and achievement in middle school science classrooms. Ph.D. Dissertation. The University of Kansas, School of Education.
Bednarz S.W. and Audet R., 1999: The status of GIS technology in teacher preparation programs. Journal of Geography 98(2): 60–67.
Bednarz S.W. and Bednarz R.S., 2003: Alternative geography. International Handbook of Geography Education. Kluwer, Amsterdam.
Bednarz S.W. and Ludwig G., 1998: Ten things higher education needs to know about GIS in primary and secondary education. Transactions in GIS 2(2): 123–133.
Bednarz S.W., 2000: Problem based learning. In: Audet R. and Luwig G. (eds), GIS in Schools. ESRI Press, Redlands, CA.
Bednarz S.W., 1999: Impact and Success: Evaluating a GIS Training Institute. Proceedings of the ESRI Users Conference, San Diego, CA. <http://gis.esri.com/library/userconf/proc99/proceed/papers/pap895/ p895.htm>
Bransford J.D., Brown A.L., Cocking R.R., 1999: How People Learn. National Academy Press. Washington D.C.
Byrnes J.P., 2001: Cognitive Development and Learning in Instructional Contexts. Allyn and Bacon, Boston.
Committee on Geography, National Academies Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources, 2000: Support for Thinking Spatially: The Incorporation of Geographic Information Science Across the K-12 Curriculum. Unpublished manuscript. National Research Council, Washington D.C.
Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbuilt, 1996: Looking at technology in context: A framework for understanding technology and education research. In: Berliner D. & Calfee R. (eds), The Handbook of Educational Psychology, pp. 807–840. Macmillan, New York.
Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbuilt, 1997: The Jasper Project. Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ.
Cuban L., 1986: Teachers and Machines: The Classroom Use of Technology since 1920. Teachers College Press, New York.
Crabb K., 2001: Case study of geographic information system integration in a high school world geography classroom. Unpublished dissertation, College of Education, The University of Georgia.
Dede C., 1998: Introduction. In Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) Yearbook: Learning with Technology. Alexandria, VA: Association for the Supervision and Curruclum Development.
Donaldson D.P., 2001: With a little help from our friends: Implementing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in K-12 schools. Social Education 65(3): 147–150.
Environmental Systems Research Institute, 2001: The Community Atlas. Available Online: http://www.esri.com/industries/k-12/atlas/
Egenhofer M.J., and Mark D.M., 1995: Naive Geography. In Frank A.U. and Kuhn W. (eds), Spatial Information Theory: A Theoretical Basis for GIS, Springer-Verlag, Lecture Notes in Computer Sciences No. 988, Berlin.
Golledge R.G. and Stimson R.J., 1997: Spatial Behavior: A Geographic Perspective. Guilford Press, New York.
Golledge R.G. and Bell S.M., 1995: Reasoning and inference in spatial knowledge acquisition: The cognitive map and an internalized geographic information system. Unpublished manuscript. Department of Geography, University of California-Santa Barbara.
Goodchild M.F. and Kemp K.K., 1990: The NCGIA Core Curriculum in GIS. National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis, University of California-Santa Barbara CA.
Green D.R., 2001: GIS: A Sourcebook for Schools. Taylor and Francis, London.
Keiper T.A., 1999: GIS for elementary students: An inquiry into a new approach to learning geography. Journal of Geography 98(2): 47–59.
Kerski J.J., 2000: The Implementation and Effectiveness of Geographic Information Systems Technology and Methods in Secondary Education. Unpublished dissertation, Department of Geography, University of Colorado.
Longley P.A., Goodchild M.F., Maguire D.J. and Rhind D.W., 2001: Geographic Information Systems and Science. Wiley, New York.
Malone L., Palmer A.M. and Voight C.L., 2002: Mapping Our World: GIS Lessons for Educators. ESRI Press, Redlands, CA.
Raper J., 2000: Multidimensional Geographic Information Science. Taylor and Francis, London.
Robertson M, 2003: Online learning and authentic pedagogy, http://www.educ.utas.edu.au/staff/mrobert2.html.
Salinger G.L., 1995: The charge from the National Science Foundation. In: Barstow D. and Decker M.D. (eds), First Conference on the Educational Applications of Geographic Information Systems (EdGIS). National Science Foundation, Washington D.C.
Salomon G. and Perkins D., 1996: Learning in wonderland: What do computers really offer education? In: Kerr S.T. (ed.), Technology and the Future of Schooling. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Smith G.A., 2002: Place-based education: Learning to be where we are. Kappan, 83(8): 584–575.
Tolman J., 2002: Close to home: Rooting learning in community. Working paper available from email@example.com.
Weiss A.R., Lutkus A.D., Hildebrant B.S. and Johnson M.S., 2002: NAEP: The Nation's Report Card: Geography 2001. National Center for Education Statistics, Washington D.C.
Wilson J., 2003: Personal communication.
About this article
Cite this article
Bednarz, S.W. Geographic Information Systems: A Tool to Support Geography and Environmental Education?. GeoJournal 60, 191–199 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1023/B:GEJO.0000033574.44345.c9
- environmental education
- geography education