Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name


Department or School/College


Committee Chair

Sarah J. Halvorson

Commitee Members

Heather Almquist, Fletcher Brown


geographic literacy, geography education, fourth grade, Montana, active learning, kinesthetic learning modality


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Environmental Education


A complex set of factors and processes operating within the United States public education system contribute to high rates of geographic illiteracy in the majority of young adults. These factors include, but are not limited to, a lack of structured federal controls over state geography requirements, insufficient time to implement effective geography curricula, and inadequate assessment techniques. To raise rates of geographic literacy, the National Geographic Society (NGS) created the State Giant Traveling Maps (SGTM) to actively engage students in a geography education experience that simultaneously promotes positive attitudes towards geography while strengthening student map skills. The SGTMs incorporate a kinesthetic component into instruction that transforms the map into a multi-modality resource catering to all visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners. This research evaluates the extent to which the kinesthetic component of the SGTM of Montana affects the attitudes and skills of a specific population of fourth graders in western Montana. Montana is a state that does not require geography to graduate middle or high school. Written surveys administered to 114 students before and after completing two lessons using the giant map revealed both an increase in positive attitudes towards geography and an increase in achievement levels on NAEP Standardized Geography Assessments. Furthermore, public school teachers who participated in this study enthusiastically endorsed use of the SGTM of Montana to engage students in geography. Based on the findings, the SGTM of Montana is a valuable resource to contribute to the geography education reform necessary to ensure a geographically literate population.



© Copyright 2018 Rebecca A. Kranitz