Sarah Bednarz

Sarah Bednarz

Professor Emerita



My primary research interests focus on the intersections of the learning sciences, geography, the geosciences, and geospatial technologies, with a special focus on spatial and geographic thinking, at a range of educational levels. My related research interests include environmental and geosciences education, curriculum development, assessment, and professional development for educator preparation. This is, in part, based on my experience as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for the College of Geosciences, 2008-20014. Issues related to how spatial, geographical, and geospatial thinking contribute to the development of committed and educated citizens is of increasing importance and personal relevance.

I have worked extensively in pre- and in-service professional development as well as with early and mid-career faculty in university settings. Recently, I chaired the Geographical Sciences Educational Research Committee, part of the NSF-funded project Roadmap to 21st Century Geographic Literacy ( I am a Commissioning Editor for the Journal of Geography in Higher Education and, as Vice President for the American Association of Geographers 2014-2015 (President, 2015-2016), I will organize the Department Head Leadership Workshop at the University of Connecticut in June 2015

Selected Publications

Selected Publications

  • Bowlick, F.*, Bednarz S.W., and Goldberg, DW. (accepted) Student Learning in an Introductory GIS Course: Using a Project Based Approach. Transactions in GIS.
  • Baker, T, Battersby, S, Bednarz, S.W., Bodzin, A. Koolvoord, R., Sinton, D. and Moore, S. (accepted) A Research Agenda for Geospatial Technologies and Learning. Journal of Geography.
  • Huynh, N., Bednarz S., and Solem, M. 2015. A Road Map for Learning Progressions Research in Geography, Journal of Geography, 114(2): 69-79. 
  • Bednarz, S.W. 2014. The Best Fit: Passion for a Profession. The Southwestern Geographer, 17: 3-5.
  • Jo, I* and Bednarz, S. W. 2014. Dispositions toward teaching spatial thinking through geography: Conceptualization and an exemplar assessment. Journal of Geography, 113: 198-207.
  • Bednarz, S.W., S. Heffron, and M. Solem. 2014. Geography standards in the United States: Past influences, future prospects. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 23(1): 79-89.
  • Jo, I.* and Bednarz, S. W. 2014. Developing Pre-service Teachers’ Pedagogical Content Knowledge for Teaching Spatial Thinking through Geography. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 38(2): 301-313.
  • Sinton, D.S., Bednarz, S.W.,Gersmehl, P., Kolvoord, R., and Uttal, D. 2013. The People’s Guide to Spatial Thinking. Washington DC: National Council for Geographic Education.
  • Bednarz, S.W., Heffron, S., & Huynh, N. (Eds.). 2013. A road map for 21st century geography education: Geography education research (A report from the Road Map for 21st Century Geography Education Project Geography Education Research Committee). Washington, DC: National Geographic Society. Retrieved from
  • Baker, T. Kerski, J., Huynh, N.T., Viehrig,K. and Bednarz, S.W. 2012. A Call for an Agenda and Center for GIS Education Research. Review of International Geographical Education Online, 2(3):225-288.
  • Foote, K., S. W. Bednarz, J. Monk, M. Solem, and J. Stoltman. 2012. Rethinking postgraduate geography education in the US: Issues and concerns. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 36(1): 57–64.
  • Bednarz, S. W., and K. Kemp. 2011. Understanding and nurturing spatial literacy. In International Conference: Spatial Thinking and Geographic Information Sciences, ed. Y. Asami, 18–23. Procedia: Social and Behavioral Sciences.
  • Bednarz, S.W. 2011. Spatial literacy in the geographical sciences. Curriculum Making in Geography, Institute of Education, University of London & International Geographical Union
  • Jo, I.*, A. Klein, R. Bednarz, and S.W. Bednarz. 2011. An exploration of spatial thinking in introductory GIS courses. In Teaching Geographic Information Science in Higher Education, eds. K. Foote, D. DiBiase, D. Unwin, and N. Tate, 211–230. New York and London:  Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Jo, I* and S.W. Bednarz. 2011. Textbook questions to support spatial thinking: Differences in spatiality by question location. Journal of Geography, 110: 70–80.
  • Jo, Injeong*, Bednarz, S.W., and Sandra Metoyer* (2010) Selecting and designing questions to facilitate spatial thinking. The Geography Teacher, 7(2):49-55.


Ph.D. Curriculum & Instruction, Geography Education, Texas A&M University, 1992

M.A.T, Geography Education, University of Chicago, 1974

A.B., Geography, Mount Holyoke College, magna cum laude, 1973


Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence, 2008

Gilbert H. Grosvenor Honors for Geographic Education, Association of American Geographers, 2007

George J. Miller Award, National Council for Geographic Education, 2005

University Distinguished Achievement Award, Association of Former Students, 2004

Additional Information

Vice-President, American Association of Geographers, 2014-2015

President, American Association of Geographers, 2015-2016

Update My Profile