Spatial Abilities In Spatial Thinking

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1 Introduction Starting in the 1950s, cartographers and scientists from related fields began asking cognitive questions about geographic information. While the cartographers studied how map users with different levels of expertise interpreted map symbols (Robinson 1952, as cited in Montello & Freundschuh 2005), behavioral geographers analyzed the decisions involved in human movement patterns, such as commuting, travel and relocation (Cox & Golledge, 1969; Golledge & Stimson, 1997, both as cited in Montello & Freundschuh 2005). Today, cognitive research is still a valid field of research within GIScience, if having been made a research priority by the UCGIS in 1996 (McMaster & Usery 2004) is any indication. The reasons for studying spatial thinking…show more content…
Adapted from Wakabayashi & Ishikawa (2011) 2.1.3 Spatial abilities Wakabayashi & Ishikawa (2011) describe spatial abilities as the cognitive skills that form the basis for spatial thinking. Gender researchers show a special interest in studying spatial abilities as they have been proven to show the biggest gender differences in human cognition (Lawton 2010). Furthermore, spatial abilities have also been shown that adolescents with above-average spatial abilities are more likely to pursue careers in STEM fields (Shea et al. 2001, Wai et al. 2009). 2.1.4 Spatial literacy In order to be spatially literate, the US National Research Council (2006) declares an individual must: 1) have the habit of mind of thinking spatially; 2) practice spatial thinking in an informed way; and 3) adopt a critical stance to spatial thinking. 2.1.5 Cognitive load of geographic information Cognitive load represents the mental “burden” of studying and acquiring new information. In regards to geographic information especially, information overload can quickly occur, a phenomenon that is always undesirable as true understanding of the presented information then is impossible. An example of information overload through geographic information is shown in FIGURE…show more content…
Reprinted from Kuniavsky (2006) Through research in this area, universal guides regarding user-friendly map creation can be established. 2.2 Traditional and current research areas With the following sections, I try to give a complete overview of the traditional and current research areas within cognitive GIScience. 2.2.1 Cognitive map First presented by Tolman (1948), the cognitive map describes the mental representation of the spatial layout of a being’s surroundings. Cognitive maps have been shown to have holes, systematic distortions (reduced or enlarged in different areas) and a more regular layout than the real world does (Golledge 1982; Montello & Freundschuh 2005). Figure 3 shows two representations of a cognitive map. (a) (b) Figure 3: Two representations of a cognitive map: (a) a warped grid representation, and (b) a tensor representation. Reprinted from Golledge (1982) 1430 Wörter für heute ab hier: 2.2.2 Cognitive development of map reading skills in children The study of how children develop their map reading skills allows us to determine which spatial abilities appear to be inherent to humans and which are developed at which
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