Vol. 14 No. 3 (2023): (Issue in progress)
Review Article

Learning and teaching through inquiry with geospatial technologies: A systematic review

Vendula Mašterová
Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic

Published 2023-07-26


  • geospatial technologies,
  • inquiry,
  • systematic review,
  • primary education,
  • secondary education

How to Cite

Mašterová, Vendula. 2023. “Learning and Teaching through Inquiry With Geospatial Technologies: A Systematic Review”. European Journal of Geography 14 (3):42-54. https://doi.org/10.48088/ejg.v.mas. .
Received 2023-05-18
Accepted 2023-07-26
Published 2023-07-26


The development of digital skills among pupils at the lowest levels is already an important part of education. The implementation of geospatial technologies (GST) is one of the ways to build and deepen these skills in primary and secondary schools. The use of these technologies is possible through an inquiry approach. This paper aims to identify the knowledge gaps on the issue of linking GST and inquiry in primary and secondary school learning and teaching. This article presents findings from 36 English-language empirical research studies published up to 2020 in the Web of Science and Scopus databases. The systematic review focuses mainly on the methods used and the results of the studies. The analysis of the studies shows that the methods used are strongly heterogeneous, and qualitative and quantitative methods are similarly represented. The results of the studies indicate that prior teacher preparation is necessary for this type of learning and teaching,  and that students develop digital competencies and knowledge related to GST and the topic of the learning task that is addressed using these technologies. This systematic review presents recommendations and pitfalls for learning and teaching through inquiry with GST, but also recommendations for future research.


  • Prior teacher preparation is necessary for teaching through inquiry with GST.
  • Students develop digital literacy and knowledge related to GST and topic of learning.
  • GST and inquiry can be incorporated into geography, but also science or social science.
  • Researchers focus on GST rather than inquiry


Download data is not yet available.


  1. Albion, P. (2021). Project-, problem-, and inquiry-based learning. In M. Henderson & G. Romeo, Teaching and Digital Technologies (pp. 240-252). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781316091968.024
  2. Anunti, H., Vuopala, E., & Rusanen, J. (2020). A portfolio model for the teaching and learning of GIS competencies in an upper secondary school: A case study from a Finnish geomedia course. Review of International Geographical Education Online, 10(3), 262–282. https://doi.org/10.33403/rigeo.741299
  3. Avard, M. M., & Clark, B. K. (2001). Globe in preservice and inservice teacher education. Journal of Geoscience Education, 49(5), 461–466. https://doi.org/10.5408/1089-9995-49.5.461
  4. Baker, T. R., & White, S. H. (2003). The effects of G.I.S. on students’ attitudes, Self-efficacy, and achievement in middle school science class-rooms. Journal of Geography, 102(6), 243–254. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221340308978556
  5. Barnes, D., & Todd, F. (1995). Communication and Learning Revisited: Making Meaning Through Talk. London: Routledge.
  6. Barnikel, F. (2015). The Acquisition of Spatial Competence – Fast and Easy Multidisciplinary Learning with an Online GIS. European Journal of Geography, 6(2), 6–14. https://www.eurogeojournal.eu/index.php/egj/article/view/418
  7. Bednarz, S. W. (2004). Geographic information systems: A tool to support geography and environmental education?. GeoJournal, 60(1), 191–199.
  8. Benimmas, A., Kerski, J., & Solís, P. (2011). The impact of a geographic technologies professional development institute on Middle Eastern and North African teachers. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 20(1), 21–45. https://doi.org/10.1080/10382046.2011.540101
  9. Bodzin, A. M., Fu, Q., Peffer, T. E., & Kulo, V. (2013). Developing Energy Literacy in US Middle-Level Students Using the Geospatial Curriculum Approach. International Journal of Science Education, 35(9), 1561–1589. https://doi.org/10.1080/09500693.2013.769139
  10. Booth, A., Sutton, A., & Papaioannou, D. (2016). Systematic Approaches to a Successful Literature Review (2nd ed.). London: SAGE Publications.
  11. Brindisi, C., Seber, D., & Moore, A. (2006). Evaluating geoscience information systems in the classroom: A case study of discover our earth. Geo-sphere, 2(1), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1130/GES00023.1
  12. Bybee, R.W., Taylor, J.A., Gardner, A.L., & V'an, P. (2006). The BSCS 5E Instructional Model: Origins and Effectiveness. Retrieved from https://bscs.org/reports/the-bscs-5e-instructional-model-origins-and-effectiveness/
  13. Collins, L., & Mitchell, J. T. (2018). Teacher training in GIS: what is needed for long-term success?. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 28(2), 118-135. https://doi.org/10.1080/10382046.2018.1497119
  14. Czigány, S., Császár, Z., Kiss, K., Halmai, Á., Lóczy, D., Nagyváradi, L., & Pirkhoffer, E. (2016). Playing on reality: do geomodels improve the percep-tion of geographical terms?. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 27(2), 149–164. https://doi.org/10.1080/10382046.2017.1320896
  15. Dewey, J. (1929). The sources of a science of education. Horace Liveright.
  16. Dunleavy, M., Dede, C., & Mitchell, R. (2009). Affordances and limitations of immersive participatory augmented reality simulations for teaching and learning. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 18(1), 7–22. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10956-008-9119-1
  17. Dupigny-Giroux, L. -A., Toolin, R., Hogan, S., & Fortney, M. D. (2012). The Satellites, Weather and climate (SWAC) teacher professional develop-ment program: Making the case for Climate and geospatial literacy. Journal of Geoscience Education, 60(2), 133–146. https://doi.org/10.5408/11-238.1
  18. Ebenezer, J., Kaya, O. N., & Ebenezer, D. L. (2011). Engaging students in environmental research projects: Perceptions of fluency with innovative technologies and levels of scientific inquiry abilities. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(1), 94–116. https://doi.org/10.1002/tea.20387
  19. Egiebor, E. E., & Foster, E. J. (2019). Students’ Perceptions of Their Engagement Using GIS-Story Maps. Journal of Geography, 118(2), 51–65. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221341.2018.1515975
  20. Fargher, M. (2017). GIS and the Power of Geographical Thinking. In C. Brooks, G. Butt, & M. Fargher The Power of Geographical Thinking (pp. 151–164). Springer International Publishing.
  21. Favier, T. T. (2011). Geographic Information Systems in inquiry-based secondary geography education: Theory & Practice [Dissertation]. VU University Amsterdam.
  22. Favier, T. T., & van der Schee, J. A. (2012). Exploring the characteristics of an optimal design for inquiry-based geography education with Geo-graphic Information Systems. Computers & Education, 58(1), 666–677. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2011.09.007
  23. Favier, T. T., & van der Schee, J. A. (2014). The effects of geography lessons with geospatial technologies on the development of high school students' relational thinking. Computers & Education, 76, 225–236. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2014.04.004
  24. Geraghty, E., & Kerski, J. (2020). The Impact of COVID-19 on Geography, GIS, and Education. Journal of research and didactics in geography, 2020(2), 53–66. https://doi.org/10.4458/3617-0
  25. Guiterrez, M., Coulter, B., & Goodwin, D. R. (2002). Natural disasters workshop integrating hands-on activities, internet-based data, and GIS. Journal of Geoscience Education, 50(4), 437–443. https://doi.org/10.5408/1089-9995-50.4.437
  26. Hagevik, R. A., Emeritus, H. S. S., Gioppo, C., & Whitaker, D. C. (2014). Impact of science teacher professional development through geospatial technologies: A 5-step program of support. In Teaching Science and Investigating Environmental Issues with Geospatial Technology: Design-ing Effective Professional Development for Teachers (pp. 173–190). https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-3931-6_11
  27. Hammond, T. C., Bodzin, A., Anastasio, D., Holland, B., Popejoy, K., Sahagian, D., Rutzmoser, S., Carrigan, J., & Farina, W. (2018). “You know you can do this, right?”: developing geospatial technological pedagogical content knowledge and enhancing teachers’ cartographic practices with socio-environmental science investigations. Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 45(4), 305–318. https://doi.org/10.1080/15230406.2017.1419440
  28. Hedley, M. L., Templin, M. A., Czajkowski, K., & Czerniak, C. (2013). The use of geospatial technologies instruction within a stu-dent/teacher/scientist partnership: Increasing students' geospatial skills and atmospheric concept knowledge. Journal of Geoscience Edu-cation, 61(1), 161–169. https://doi.org/10.5408/11-237.1
  29. Heffron, S. G., & Downs, R. M. (Eds.). (2012). Geography for Life: National Geography Standards (2nd ed.). National Council for Geographic Educa-tion.
  30. Hmelo-Silver, C. E., Duncan, R. G., & Chinn, C. (2007). Scaffolding and Achievement in Problem-Based and Inquiry Learning: A Response to Kirschner, Sweller, and Clark (2006). Educational Psychologist, 42(2), 99–107. https://doi.org/10.1080/00461520701263368
  31. Hong, J. E. (2014). Promoting Teacher Adoption of GIS Using Teacher-Centered and Teacher-Friendly Design. Journal of Geography, 113(4), 139–150. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221341.2013.872171
  32. Hong, J. E., & Melville, A. (2018). Training Social Studies Teachers to Develop Inquiry-Based GIS Lessons. Journal of Geography, 117(6), 229–244. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221341.2017.1371205
  33. Hong, J. E., & Stonier, F. (2015). GIS In-Service Teacher Training Based on TPACK. Journal of Geography, 114(3), 108–117. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221341.2014.947381
  34. Höhnle, S., Fögele, J., Mehren, R., & Schubert, J. C. (2015). GIS Teacher Training: Empirically-Based Indicators of Effectiveness. Journal of Geogra-phy, 115(1), 12-23. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221341.2015.1016546
  35. Hooft Graafland, J. (2018). New technologies and 21st century children: Recent trends and outcomes. OECD Education Working Papers No. 179. https://doi.org/10.1787/e071a505-en
  36. Jadallah, M., Kang, H. -S., Hund, A. M., & Kirby, E. M. (2020). The indexical nature of classroom discourse: the role of technology integration. Classroom Discourse, 11(1), 41–60. https://doi.org/10.1080/19463014.2019.1573691
  37. Jant, E. A., Uttal, D. H., Kolvoord, R., James, K., & Msall, C. (2020). Defining and Measuring the Influences of GIS-Based Instruction on Students’ STEM-Relevant Reasoning. Journal of Geography, 119(1), 22–31. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221341.2019.1676819
  38. Jo, I. (2016). Future teachers’ dispositions toward teaching with geospatial technologies. Contemporary Issues in Technology & Teacher Educa-tion, 16(3), 310–327.
  39. Keiper, T. A. (2007). GIS for Elementary Students: An Inquiry Into a New Approach to Learning Geography. Journal of Geography, 98(2), 47-59. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221349908978860
  40. Kerski, J. J. (2008). The role of GIS in Digital Earth education. International Journal of Digital Earth, 1(4), 326–346. https://doi.org/10.1080/17538940802420879
  41. Kerski, J. J., Demirci, A., & Milson, A. J. (2013). The Global Landscape of GIS in Secondary Education. Journal of Geography, 112(6), 232–247. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221341.2013.801506
  42. Kirschner, P. A., Sweller, J., & Clark, R. E. (2006). Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Con-structivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 75-86. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15326985ep4102_1
  43. Komlenović, D., Manić, E., & Malinić, D. (2013). The Geographic Information System (GIS) in secondary education in Serbia. Perspectives in Educa-tion, 31(1), 96–104.
  44. Korvasová, V. (2022). Attractive geographical themes and topics from the perspective of students (2000−2021): A systematic review. Geografie, 127. https://doi.org/10.37040/geografie.2022.009
  45. Kulo, V. A., & Bodzin, A. M. (2011). Integrating geospatial technologies in an energy unit. Journal of Geography, 110(6), 239–251. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221341.2011.566344
  46. Liljeström, A., Enkenberg, J., & Pöllänen, S. (2013). Making learning whole: An instructional approach for mediating the practices of authentic science inquiries. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 8(1), 51–86. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11422-012-9416-0
  47. Liu, C., Bano, M., Zowghi, D., & Kearney, M. (2021). Analysing user reviews of inquiry-based learning apps in science education. Computers & Education, 164. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2020.104119
  48. Liu, Y., Bui, E. N., Chang, C. -H., & Lossman, H. G. (2010). PBL-GIS in Secondary Geography Education: Does It Result in Higher-Order Learning Outcomes?. Journal of Geography, 109(4), 150–158. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221341.2010.497541
  49. Mísařová, D., Svobodová, H., Mašterová, V., Durna, R., Hercik, J., Šimáček, P., Švédová, H., & Kubíček, P. (2021). Koncepce rozvoje geoin-formačních dovedností ve výuce na základních a středních školách. Brno: Masarykova univerzita. https://doi.org/10.5817/CZ.MUNI.M280-0011-2021
  50. Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A frame-work of teacher knowledge. Teachers College Rec-ord,108(6), 1017-1054.
  51. Mitchell, J. T., Roy, G., Fritch, S., & Wood, B. (2018). GIS professional development for teachers: lessons learned from high-needs schools. Car-tography and Geographic Information Science, 45(4), 292–304. https://doi.org/10.1080/15230406.2017.1421482
  52. Mzuza, M. K., & van der Westhuizen, C. P. (2019). Skills gained and their significance in teaching with or through GIS. European Journal of Geog-raphy, 10(3), 73-84. https://www.eurogeojournal.eu/index.php/egj/article/view/195
  53. Nielsen, C. P., Oberle, A., & Sugumaran, R. (2011). Implementing a high school level geospatial technologies and spatial thinking course. Journal of Geography, 110(2), 60–69. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221341.2011.534171
  54. NCSS (2013). The College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards: Guidance for Enhancing the Rigor of K-12 Civics, Economics, Geography, and History. National Council for the Social Studies.
  55. OECD. (2014). PISA 2012 Results: Creative Problem Solving: Students' Skills in Tackling Real-Life Problems (Volume V). PISA, OECD Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1787/19963777
  56. Oğuz-Ünver, A., & Arabacıoğlu, S. (2011). Overviews on Inquiry Based and Problem Based Learning Methods. In Selected papers presented at WCNTSE (Special Issue: Selected papers presented at WCNTSE, pp. 303–310). Western Anatolia Journal of Educational Sciences (WAJES).
  57. Osborne, Z. M., van de Gevel, S. L., Eck, M. A., & Sugg, M. (2020). An Assessment of Geospatial Technology Integration in K–12 Education. Journal of Geography, 119(1), 12–21. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221341.2019.1640271
  58. Perugini, S., & Bodzin, A. M. (2020). Using Web-Based GIS to Assess Students' Geospatial Knowledge of Hurricanes and Spatial Habits of Mind. Journal of Geography, 119(2), 63–73. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221341.2019.1710764
  59. Piaget, J. (1954). The construction of reality in the child. Basic Books.
  60. Piotrowska, I., Cichoń, M., Abramowicz, D., & Sypniewski, J. (2019). Challenges in geography education – a review of research problems. Quaes-tiones Geographicae, 38(1), 71–84. https://doi.org/10.2478/quageo-2019-0009
  61. Radinsky, J., Hospelhorn, E., Melendez, J. W., Riel, J., & Washington, S. (2014). Teaching American migrations with GIS census webmaps: A modi-fied "backwards design" approach in middle-school and college classrooms. Journal of Social Studies Research, 38(3), 143–158. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jssr.2014.02.002
  62. Ratinen, I., & Keinonen, T. (2011). Student-teachers' use of Google Earth in problem-based geology learning. International Research in Geograph-ical and Environmental Education, 20(4), 345–358. https://doi.org/10.1080/10382046.2011.619811
  63. Rezba, R. J., Auldridge, T., & Rhea L., 1999. Teaching & learning the basic science skills. Accessed June 2018. Previously available at-www.pen.k12.va.us/VDOE/instruction/TLBSSGuide.doc as cited online at https://www.nsta.org/science-teacher/science-teacher-october-2005/simplifying-inquiry-instruction.
  64. Roberts, M. (2013). Geography Through Enquiry. Geographical Association.
  65. Rød, J. K., Larsen, W., & Nilsen, E. (2010). Learning geography with GIS: Integrating GIS into upper secondary school geography curricula. Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift - Norwegian Journal of Geography, 64(1), 21-35. https://doi.org/10.1080/00291950903561250
  66. Schlemper, M. B., Athreya, B., Czajkowski, K., Stewart, V. C., & Shetty, S. (2018). Teaching Spatial Thinking and Geospatial Technologies Through Citizen Mapping and Problem-Based Inquiry in Grades 7–12. Journal of Geography, 118(1), 21–34. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221341.2018.1501083
  67. Schultz, R. B., & DeMers, M. N. (2020). Transitioning from Emergency Remote Learning to Deep Online Learning Experiences in Geography Edu-cation. Journal of Geography, 119(5), 142–146. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221341.2020.1813791
  68. Schulze, U. (2021). “GIS works!”—But why, how, and for whom? Findings from a systematic review. Transactions in GIS, 25(2), 768–804. https://doi.org/10.1111/tgis.12704
  69. Sproken-Smith, R. (2005). Implementing a Problem-Based Learning Approach for Teaching Research Methods in Geography. Journal of Geogra-phy in Higher Education, 29(2), 203-221. https://doi.org/10.1080/03098260500130403
  70. van der Schee, J., Trimp, H., Béneker, T., & Favier, T. (2015). Digital Geography Education in the Twenty-First Century: Needs and Opportunities. In Geospatial Technologies and Geography Education in a Changing World (pp. 11–20). Springer Japan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-4-431-55519-3_2
  71. Yeung, S. (2010). Problem-Based Learning for Promoting Student Learning in High School Geography. Journal of Geography, 109(5), 190-200. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221341.2010.501112
  72. Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Harvard University Press.
  73. Whyatt, D., Davies, G., & Clark, G. (2022). Going solo: students’ strategies for coping with an independent GIS project. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 46(3), 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1080/03098265.2022.2065668
  74. Wiegand, P. (2003). School students’ understanding of choropleth maps: Evidence from collaborative mapmaking using gis. Journal of Geogra-phy, 102(6), 234–242. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221340308978555
  75. Wigglesivorth, J. C. (2003). What is the Best Route? Route-Finding Strategies of Middle School Students Using GIS. Journal of Geography, 102(6), 282–291. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221340308978560
  76. Wilder, A., Brinkerhoff, J. D., & Higgins, T. M. (2003). Geographic information technologies + Project-Based science: A contextualized professional development approach. Journal of Geography, 102(6), 255–266. https://doi.org/10.1080/0022134030897855