Developing Methods for Neurally-Informed Curriculum Design Based on Long-term Outcomes from a Spatial STEM Classroom

Project: Research project

Project Details


The focus of this proposal is on the influence of instruction in using geographic information systems (GIS) on students' cognitive and neural processing of spatial information. GIS is a computer-based mapping system that allows the user to construct maps “on the fly” to represent many different kinds of data. For example, a real estate developer might want to see several properties in relation to traffic, parking, surrounding rent prices, and vacancy rates. The developer could include all, or any subset, of these layers of data to gain information to make an effective decision about where to buy or locate a new property. The research investigates whether taking a high school course that emphasizes the use of GIS can affect students’ reasoning about complex spatial problems. The methods include cognitive interviews, standardized tests, and fMRI imaging of a subset of the students. The data collection will occur in suburban Washington, DC, with imaging occurring at Georgetown University. The Northwestern portion of the proposed research will involve (a) developing test items, and (b) analysis of data. No Northwestern staff or faculty will participate in the actual data collection, only in the preparation of materials and analysis of data. Uttal will also help to prepare the results for publication and presentation at conferences.
Effective start/end date8/1/227/31/25


  • National Science Foundation (NOT SPECIFIED)


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