Which children can find a way through a strange town using a streetmap?-results of an empirical study on children's orientation competence

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  • Ingrid Hemmer
  • Michael Hemmer
  • Katja Kruschel
  • Eva Neidhardt
  • Gabriele Obermaier
  • Rainer Uphues

This article relates about some results of an interdisciplinary research project analyzing influencing factors of children's spatial orientation competence in real space carried out by geography educators and psychologists. The focus is on the concept of representation as a theoretical foundation. The research design for collecting data of independent and dependent variables (map-based orientation competence, MBO), and the self-developed measuring instrument are explained. Altogether, 328 pupils of third, fourth, and fifth grade (aged 8-12 years) were tested. The orientation competence of children in strange spaces was slightly above the average, and grew with age. The most spectacular increase was detected on the transition from third to fourth grade. Additionally, boys scored higher than girls. The results also showed that along with age and gender, spatial intelligence (mental rotation) and previous knowledge shape MBO. A limited influence can be attributed to self-concept and previous experiences, while interest has no influence on MBO at all.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Research in Geographical and Environmental Education
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)23-40
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 01.02.2013

    Research areas

  • map skills, navigation, school children, spatial cognition, spatial orientation
  • Psychology