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Geographic information systems (GIS) and instructional technology (IT) diffusion: K–12 student and educator conceptualizations

, North Carolina State University, United States

North Carolina State University . Awarded


The purpose of this study was to investigate student and educator conceptualizations of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Instructional Technology (IT), and GIS in schools. GIS in education research to date has not focused on the understandings of educators and students. Studying these conceptualizations may further investigation of GIS as an instructional technology in K-12 education. Representational drawings and interviews in this study illustrated spatial and linguistic conceptualizations based on Paivio's (1991) dual coding theory and is situated in Roger's (2003) diffusion of innovations theory.

This multiple-case study combines qualitative and phenomenographic research methods. Phenomenographic researchers seek to categorize the common understandings generated by a set of individual participants to better illustrate internal representations of phenomena. Data collected included three representational drawings and three semi-structured interviews from each participant. Participants were selected based on the criteria of equivalent GIS skills and training. The four educators represented varied K-12 settings and curriculum areas in secondary and middle schools. The two students were middle schoolers. Each session began with a participant generating a representational drawing on a focused research question. Subsequent interviews expanded on participant conceptualizations that emerged in the drawings and probed further understandings of the phenomena represented.

The data revealed participants' allocentric and egocentric positions of observation. The common understandings emergent in the data provided context for the analysis of GIS, IT, and GIS in schools within the framework of Rogers' diffusion of innovations theory. The data indicated that to date, IT is further advanced in schools' adoption and implementation process of diffusion than is GIS, which is located in Rogers' (2003) initial stages of matching and agenda-setting. The confluence of participants' understandings of GIS and IT provided insights into awareness issues, uncertainties, and questions that must be examined in schools' innovation decision making.


White, S.H. Geographic information systems (GIS) and instructional technology (IT) diffusion: K–12 student and educator conceptualizations. Ph.D. thesis, North Carolina State University. Retrieved January 17, 2020 from .

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Cited By

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  • Geospatial Tools in Pre-Service Programs

    Shannon White, University of South Florida, United States; Thomas Baker, University of Kansas, United States

    Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2008 (Mar 03, 2008) pp. 2288–2290

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