Robert Bednarz

Robert Bednarz

Professor Emeritus

North American editor of Journal of Geography in Higher Education



Dr. Bednarz’s academic interests fall into two areas, geographic education and urban-economic geography. Over the past 15 years, during which he served as editor of the Journal of Geography and now as North American editor of the Journal of Geography in Higher Education, Dr. Bednarz has focused mainly on topics related to how people learn, organize, and use geographic information. His research interests lie within the broad area of spatial thinking, especially in how information technology (IT) affects individuals' ability to perceive, understand, and analyze spatial patterns, distributions, and relationships. His research perspective, like that of most geographers, extends beyond the spatial abilities typically investigated by psychologists or educational psychologists (i.e., spatial visualization and spatial orientation), to include what Golledge calls, spatial relations. These abilities—associating and correlating spatially distributed phenomena, way finding, overlaying, understanding scale, etc.—are often the most relevant to learning and applying geography.

Selected Publications

  • Metoyer, S., R. S. Bednarz, and S. W. Bednarz. 2015. “Spatial Thinking in Education: Concepts, development, and assessment,” in  Geospatial Technologies and Geography Education in a Changing World, eds. A. Demirci, O Muñiz, and J. van der Schee, pp. 21-34.
  • Metoyer, S. and R. S. Bednarz. 2016. “Spatial Thinking Predicts Geographic Thinking: Evidence from a study exploring the effects of Geospatial Technology,” Journal of Geography Vol. 40.
  • Bednarz, S. W. and R. S. Bednarz. 2019. “Citizenship Education In a Spatially Enhanced World” in Spatial Citizenship Education: Citizenship through Geography, eds. E. Shin and S. Bednarz, pp. 59-71.
  • Bednarz, R. S. and J. Lee. 2019. “What improves spatial thinking? Evidence from the Spatial Thinking Abilities Test,” International Research in Geographic and Environmental Education, Vol.  pp. 262-280.
  • Lee, Jongwon, S. Catling, R. S. Bednarz, G. Kidman, U. Krause, A. A. Martija, K. Ohnishi, D. Wilmot, and Stefanie Zecha. In revision. “A Multinational Study of Authors’ Perceptions of and Practical Strategies When Writing Geography Textbooks,” International Research in Geographic and Environmental Education, Vol.  pp.
  • Yoshikawa, A. and R. S. Bednarz. 2013. “Gender Differences in Mobility Adaptations of Senior Citizens: A Case Study of Yao City, Japan,” Activities, Adaptation & Aging Vol. 37(4), pp. 297-318.
  • Kim, M. and R. S. Bednarz. 2013. “Effects of a GIS Course on Self-Assessment of Spatial Habits of Mind (SHOM),” Journal of Geography, 122(4): 165-177.
  • Kim, M. and R. S. Bednarz. 2013. “Development of Critical Spatial Thinking Through GIS Learning,” Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 37(3): 350-366
  • Kim, M., R. S. Bednarz, and J. Kim. 2012. “The Ability of Young Children to Use Spatial Representations,” International Research in Geographic and Environmental Education, 21(3): 261-277.
  • Jeo, I., A. G. Klein, R. S. Bednarz, and S. W. Bednarz. 2012. "An Exploration of Spatial Thinking in Introductory GIS Courses," in Teaching Geographic Information Science and Technology in Higher Education, eds. K. Foote, D. DiBiase, N. Tate and D. Unwin, pp. 211-229.
  • Lee, J., and R. S. Bednarz. 2012. "Components of Spatial Thinking: Evidence from a spatial thinking ability test," Journal of Geography, 111(1): 15-26.Bednarz, R. S. and J. Lee. 2011. “The Components of Spatial Thinking: Empirical evidence,” Procedia—Social and Behavioral Sciences, 21: 103-107.
  • Lee, J., and R. S. Bednarz. 2009. “Effect of GIS Learning on Spatial Thinking,” Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 33 (2): 183-198.
  • Bednarz, R.S. and S.W. Bednarz. 2008. “The Importance of Spatial Thinking in an Uncertain World,” in Geospatial Technologies and Homeland Security: Research Frontiers and Challenges, eds. D. Sui and S.L. Cutter. New York: Springer, pp. 315-330.


Ph.D. University of Chicago, 1975

Northwestern University 1969

Dartmouth College 1968


Journal of Geography Best Paper Award (co-author with Jongwon Lee), 2013

George J. Miller Award, National Council for Geographic Education, 2014

Distinguished Mentor Award, National Council for Geographic Education, 2014

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