An exercise to help improve the geographic skills of preservice teachers was developed and tested during a six year period on over 500 students. The exercise required these students to map two arrangements of roads and facilities within a small neighborhood. A set of spatial-temporal primitives (place, size, shape, distance, direction, connectivity, containment, pattern, duration, sequence, and frequency) was defined from the observable and measurable spatial-temporal properties between simple physical objects, and used as an analytical framework during the design, description, revision, and critique of the arrangements. Results indicate improved student comprehension of geographic scale and an ability to use elemental spatial and temporal properties to analyze practical problems. Additional capabilities of the spatial-temporal primitives are also demonstrated, including their ability to describe the relationships made on sets and their capability to construct more complex geographical frameworks, such as site and situation. An update of the standards presented in Geography for Life is also recommended to include temporal considerations in geographic theory and practice.
Kaufman, M. M. (2004) Using Spatial-Temporal Primitives to Improve Geographic Skills for Preservice Teachers. Journal of Geography, 103(4): 171-181