Initiative 6:
Build spatial learning as a field

Initiative Coordinators: Nora Newcombe (PI), Sian Beilock, Thomas F. Shipley

Many areas of learning, such as language acquisition or reading, have a well-established infrastructure of conferences, journals, databases and so forth that encourage collaboration and the sharing of resources. By contrast, the infrastructure for research on spatial learning is just beginning. This initiative is aimed at changing this situation, in order to create a sound basis for research and education in this area, which can benefit investigators within and outside SILC and become self-sustaining beyond the duration of Center funding.

Past Events:

Nora Newcombe, SILC PI (Temple University) and L. Elizabeth Crawford (University of Richmond) organized a symposium to bring together researchers investigating spatial memory and related topics. The goal was to foster cooperation, collaboration and exchange of ideas among researchers working from a variety of theoretical perspectives. The conference, Spatial Memory: Bayes and Beyond, was held in May 2013 at the University of Richmond.

♦ Members of our Spatial Network (Daniel Montello, Mary Hegarty, Christoph Hoelscher and Thomas Barkowsky) organized a summer institute on the topic area of spatial cognition: International Spatial Cognition Summer Institute (ISCSI) 2013, August 11-25, 2013, University of California, Santa Barbara.

David Uttal is a member of the Geographic Sciences Education Research Committee of the The Road Map Project (funded by NSF), spearheaded by The National Geographic Society. Our charge was to set an agenda for geography education research in the coming decade. The panel included a variety of researchers from different disciplines. Read the final reports here:

Thomas F Shipley and Dedre Gentner (Co-PI) guest edited a special issue of Cognitive Processing on Spatial learning and reasoning processes. The special issue has target articles and short reports on development of spatial thinking, assessing representations and processing of complex spatial relations, and the role of spatial thinking in science education.

♦ Specialist Meeting: Spatial Thinking Across the College Curriculum, December 10-11, 2012, The Center for Spatial Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara.

♦ Fifth International Conference on Spatial Cognition (ICSC 2012), September 4-8, 2012, Rome, Italy. See our SILC Showcase highlighting SILC participation in this event: Showcase October 2012: Two Spatial Cognition Conferences and SILC Participation.

David Uttal, SILC Faculty Member, co-chaired Spatial Cognition 2012 (SC 2012), August 31 - September 3, Abbey "Kloster Seeon" in Bavaria, Germany. More information:

♦ In July 2012 there was a follow-up workshop in Germany to the 2011 NYC Spatial Cognition in Architectural Design (SCAD) workshop.

Thomas F. Shipley co-convened (with Mary Hegarty, Carol Ormand, and Eric Riggs) the Spatial Thinking Journal Club, which is part of the On the Cutting Edge faculty professional development program (NSF funded, NAGT sponsored), January-May 2012.

Thomas F. Shipley, Mehul Bhatt and Christoph Hölscher co-chaired the SILC sponsored SCAD-11 Spatial Cognition for Architectural Design, November 16-19 2011, New York, New York.

Thomas F. Shipley co-chaired with Laura Carlson and Christoph Hölscher CogSci 2011 Expanding the Space of Cognitive Science 33rd annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society July 20 - July 23, 2011, Boston, Massachusetts.

Thomas F. Shipley co-convened the Temporal Learning Journal Club, which is part of the On the Cutting Edge faculty professional development program (NSF funded, NAGT sponsored), January-May 2011.

♦ As part of our effort to build the field, SILC hosted Spatial Cognition 2010 (Mt. Hood/Portland, Oregon, August 15-19), an international biannual conference that brings together psychologists, geographers, neuroscientists and computer scientists.
Proceedings can be ordered from

Nora Newcombe (PI) presented a talk, Early Education for Spatial Intelligence: Why, What and How, on June 17, 2010, 6:00pm in Bremen, Germany.
More information: Open .pdf document

Our Spatial Network: An Invitation to Researchers

The Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center would like to invite interested researchers currently conducting spatial cognition and learning research to join this open Spatial Network.
If you would like to be involved, please contact the SILC Webmaster to request an invitation.

Currently, our Spatial Network members span the United States and several other countries across the globe (see Figures 1 and 2 below).


Figure 1
Figure 1

Figure 2
Figure 2

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