Effects of thinking style and spatial ability on anchoring behavior in geographic information systems

Dai Yi Wang*, Mei Hsuan Lee, Chuen-Tsai Sun

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


The authors propose an instructional use for Google Earth (a GIS application) as an anchoring tool for knowledge integration. Google Earth can be used to support student explorations of world geography based on Wikipedia articles on earth science and history topics. We asked 66 Taiwanese high-school freshmen to make place marks with explanatory notes and summaries (known as anchors) to serve as geographic references; they used anchors that were predefined by their teacher for subsequent geographic searches. Our investigation focused on the processes used to create anchors, how the students used anchors to perform search tasks, and the roles of thinking style and spatial ability on learning processes and performance. The 671 generated anchors were categorized as direct, indirect, symbolic, temporal, spatial, and challenging. According to our results, students with legislative thinking style tendencies created the largest number of anchors but rarely used them for subsequent search tasks; executive-style students tended to make symbolic and temporal spatial geographic references and regularly used the teacher-created anchors and the anchors created by judicial-style students were evenly distributed across all categories. In addition, low-spatial ability students tended to create direct geographic references and to use predefined anchors for all problem types.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalEducational Technology and Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - 19 Sep 2013


  • Anchoring behavior
  • Geographic information system
  • Google earth
  • Spatial ability
  • Thinking style

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