Culture and geography: how do primary students map their local environment?

Tom Lowrie, Robyn Jorgensen, Tracy Logan, Danielle Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Large-scale spatial representations are rarely a perfect replication of the corresponding environment. Factors such as age, experience and environmental association play a significant role in each person’s cognitive map. Yet, traditional spatial tasks remove these contextual elements in determining a person’s spatial orientation skill, which has contributed to the apparent widening gap in spatial skills for children in non-urban areas. In this study we examined children’s sketch maps of their route between home and school from four geographically diverse sites (urban, regional, rural, and remote Indigenous communities). Our findings suggest children from rural and remote communities possess highly detailed and sophisticated mental representations of their local environment, outside of traditional developmental frameworks. This work provides insights into these representations through student work samples. We suggest future work consider the contextual nature of spatial skills when comparing students.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalThe Australian Educational Researcher
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Mar 2021


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