Title page for ETD etd-01242001-123819

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Bunin, J. Christopher
Author's Email Address jbunin122@hotmail.com
URN etd-01242001-123819
Title A Study of the Relationship Between Current Event Knowledge and the Ability to Construct a Mental Map of the World
Degree Master of Science
Department Geography
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Morrill, Robert W. Committee Chair
Carstensen, Laurence William Jr. Committee Member
Magliaro, Susan G. Committee Member
  • National Geography Standards
  • geography education
  • mental mapping
  • spatial familiarity
Date of Defense 2001-01-22
Availability unrestricted
This thesis studied the relationship between current event knowledge and the ability to construct a mental map of the world. It was hypothesized that participates with more current event knowledge would demonstrate better mental mapping abilities. The study was designed using two activities recommended for 12th graders by Geography for Life, National Geography Standards 1994, and the theory of spatial familiarity (Kitchen, 1994b; Gale et al., 1990, Golledge & Spector, 1978). One hundred-twenty eight students drawn from two courses offered at Virginia Tech completed a participant profile questionnaire, a current event quiz, drew a map of the world outlining the seven continents, and located and labeled 27 cities on a world map. Using ATLAS GIS the sketch maps and place locations were digitally transformed and scored for accuracy. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze current event knowledge, place location ability, and sketch mapping ability. Using Spearman rank correlation, the relationship between current event knowledge and mental mapping abilities was assessed at a number of levels. Results indicate that participants with a stronger understanding of current events tended to create a more accurate mental map of the world. That is, place location accuracy and drawing accuracy correlated with current event knowledge. However, similar to previous research (Cross, 1987; Helgren, 1983; Muller, 1985) place location knowledge outside of North America and Western Europe was poor. The results of this thesis offer baseline data that can be used for future research to study the effectiveness of the national standards set forth in Geography for Life.
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