These 126 spatial concept terms were culled from a larger list of 185, gathered from 20 source documents in 7 disciplines. We consolidated near-synonyms or otherwise closely related terms, with some loss of definitional distinctions made by authors. The table below represents one possible classification of the 126. Some terms appear in multiple categories, and are italicized in their secondary location. This grouping builds upon and expands two frameworks discussed in the 2006 NRC report, Learning to Think Spatially: ‘Elements of Spatial Thinking’ and ‘Component Tasks of Spatial Thinking.’ This work in progress is discussed and illustrated further in a recent poster. The concept terms can also be viewed by source, by discipline and alphabetically using the menu options to the left.
Space-time context space; space-time; place; landscape; setting; reference frame; object view; field view; virtual reality; the void; positive space
Primitives of identity
The existence, nature and naming of things in the world
identity; object; field; attribute; category; classification; hierarchy; part-whole; group
Spatial relationships
Relative locations of entities and their parts

location; distribution; orientation; gradient; proximity; adjacency; connection; containment; center-periphery; affinity; complement; symmetry; order; alignment; packing; polarity; chirality; separation; hierarchy

of objects and of relationships and related issues
distance; magnitude; density; shape; connectivity; dispersion; length; size; angle; area and volume; similarity; spatial sampling; modifiable areal unit; uncertainty; comparison; duration; frequency; gradient; center; access
Spatial structures
as observed, and derived from measurement and analysis
pattern; structure; boundary; network; region; neighborhood; landmark; path; surface; area; container; group; folding; route; center; branching; conduit; coil; stratum; object; part
Distinctly spatiotemporal concepts
flow diffusion; spatial interaction; motion; attraction; force; counterforce; blockage; restraint removal; balance; event and process; sequence; chaosenergetics; navigation; potential; enablement; deformation; cycle; duration; frequency; path
External tools and mental processses
representation; map; perspective; cognitive map; route perspective; survey perspective; point; line; polygon; grid; coordinate system; units; object location recall
on data
scale; spatial interpolation; spatial integration (overlay); buffer; dimensional transformation; profile; structuring; grain; time cost; space as time; map projection
Spatial inference
Products of analysis and conclusions drawn
spatial dependence; spatial heterogeneity; distance decay; areal association; spatial model; competition for space; spatial probability; aura; congruence; similarity; access