Title page for ETD etd-11022004-144902

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Winship, Jodi M.
Author's Email Address jwinship@vt.edu
URN etd-11022004-144902
Title Geographic Literacy and World Knowledge Among Undergraduate College Students
Degree Master of Science
Department Geography
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Grossman, Lawrence S. Committee Chair
Kennedy, Lisa M. Committee Member
Morrill, Robert W. Committee Member
  • Geographic Literacy
  • Geographic Knowledge
  • Geography Education
Date of Defense 2004-08-20
Availability unrestricted
To succeed in today's globalized world, it is important to understand the places and

cultures outside our own. Yet despite the acknowledged need for and importance of a greater

understanding of the world, various surveys assessing geographic knowledge have demonstrated

the geographic ignorance of people in the U.S. The purpose of this study is to assess the level of

geographic literacy among undergraduate college students and to investigate factors that may

influence geographic literacy.

An on-line survey, adapted from the National Geographic - Roper 2002 Global

Geographic Literacy Survey, was administered to a sample of undergraduate students at Virginia

Tech. The survey included a geography "quiz" to assess knowledge of geography and world

events and a background section to collect information about various factors that may influence

the participants' geographic literacy. Over 400 students participated in the study. The data were

statistically analyzed using the Mann-Whitney U and Kruskal-Wallis tests for differences in

means. Contrary to much of the previous research, the participants in this survey demonstrated a

good level of geographic knowledge. The mean score of the geography "quiz" was 81 percent.

Some of the factors found to have influence on the scores were gender, international travel,

major, fulfillment of Virginia Tech's Area 7 requirement, frequency of news media access, and

type of news accessed. Age, academic class, GPA, residency status, junior/high school

geography classes, international friends, and knowledge of foreign languages were found to have

little or no influence.

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