Assessing spatial competence in secondary education students in the Balearic Islands (Spain)


  • Antoni Pons Department of Geography, Universitat de les Illes Balears, Palma, Spain
  • Jaume Binimelis Department of Geography, Universitat de les Illes Balears, Palma, Spain
  • Juan Antonio García-González Department of Geography and Territorial Planning, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Toledo, Spain
  • Gabriel Mateu Department of Geography, Universitat de les Illes Balears, Palma, Spain


The growing interest in geography over the last decades, thanks to the introduction of GIT, contrasts with the poor level of geographic literacy of the population that academic literature reports. The purpose of this study is to analyze the spatial skills of secondary education students in the Balearic Islands by examining two parameters: place location knowledge (PLK) and area estimate of different regions of the world. This was accomplished through the design of an online instrument on which the location and area estimate of 9 territorial units of the world had to be provided, to subsequently conduct a test that was completed by 275 students in their third year of compulsory secondary education at 8 school centers. The final results show poor knowledge of the abilities that students were assessed for, which is consistent with the findings of other similar studies. The students could only clearly identify the territorial units that were nearest, those within the Mediterranean regional area, and the largest. This research is a step forward in the diagnosis of geography teaching as a basis for designing future teaching strategies to improve geographic knowledge and strengthen spatial competence.


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