Maps, Text, and Seventh-Graders: A Study of Spatial Learning

Alisa D. Ramirez, Patricia Gilmartin


The research reported here examines the effectiveness of maps in geography text for seventh grade students by asking them to study either the text alone or the text with maps and then answer questions about the material. We also investigate the influences on students' performance of gender, time of testing (immediate or delayed), and kind of knowledge required (memorization versus inference). Results reveal a consistent advantage associated with the presence of maps but not at levels which are statistically significant. Other findings include a slight advantage of females over males (again, not significant), the fact that inference questions are more difficult to answer than those requiring simple memorization, and (not surprisingly) that students' performance declines over time. We offer possible explanations for our findings, including some related to the research design and the fact that our subjects were seventh-graders.


map learning; education; maps

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