The relationship between early childhood geographic activities and achievement in, attitude toward, and awareness of geography

Kristin Jones Alvarez

Abstract

A review of the literature revealed extensive theoretical perspectives on how humans acquire spatial abilities, as well as how spatial abilities are used to perform geographical tasks. The primary purpose of this study, therefore, was to examine the relationship between early childhood spatial experiences and the achievement in, attitude toward, and awareness of geography of ninth-grade students. A further purpose was to ascertain to what degree these relationships differed by gender, race, and the presence of an older sibling. The 338 ninth-grade geography students who participated in this study were enrolled in three public schools in the southeastern U.S. The subjects completed a three-part survey developed by the investigator to determine their early childhood (ages 3-7) mobility and preferences of spatial activities, as well as their achievement in, attitude toward, and awareness of geography. Demographic data, a mobility index, and a measure of preference of spatial activities during ages 3-7 were collected using the Alvarez Geographic Experience Survey . Attitude toward geography was obtained through the Image of Geography Survey . Awareness of geography was ascertained by the Geographic Awareness Survey . Achievement in geography was determined by the subjects' earned numerical grade from the grading period immediate preceding the study. Pearson Correlation Coefficient and MANOVA statistical procedures were used to discern the findings of the study. The results of these procedures demonstrated significant relationships between early childhood geographic experiences and achievement, attitude, and awareness. In addition, early childhood geographic experiences were found to differ significantly by race and gender, but not by the presence of an older sibling. The results demonstrate that early childhood geographic experiences are related to later geography learning in terms of achievement, attitude, and awareness. In addition, gender and race influence early childhood experiences, and ultimately later geographic ability and interest.