Early Childhood Educators’ Understandings of Geography and Digital Cartography Education

Authors: Hyun Joong Kim*, Plymouth State University, Yoo Jin Shon, Dong-Eui University, Korea, Mi Jin Kim, Pusan National University, Korea
Topics: Geography Education, Higher Education
Keywords: early childhood geography education, cartography education, map usage
Session Type: Interactive Short Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Galerie 1, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Spatial thinking is one of the most important skills that young children can improve as they learn geography. Especially, learning about maps and using maps are important tools that can aid children in their understanding of people, things, and places around them. This study reports the findings from an investigation that examines the understandings of geography education held by a group of early childhood educators who had no previous in-depth exposure to geography disciplines. This research is a preliminary step in examining how we can utilize geographic information systems(GIS) tools including web GIS in the kindergarten classroom. For the study, 270 kindergarten teachers in Busan, Korea, were interviewed. Their understandings of geography were analyzed and visualized using analytical diagrams, relationships, and significance of these conceptions. The findings revealed that the educators understood geography as related more to physical geography rather than to human geography. They held more conception of physical properties, such as location, map, earth, region, local, direction, and countries, but lacked concepts of spatial thinking and the relationship between people and their environments. The findings also indicated that the educators’ understandings of cartography education and usefulness of maps differed by age, level of educational attainment, years of teaching experience, and ages of classes. Based on key findings, a GIS web site for early childhood was established to support teachers. This research contributes to geography education and guides us in what ways we can improve access and new learning opportunities with GIS.

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