Mapping Your Educational Research

What is the average number of staff development hours per year for teachers within and across countries?   What is the association between student-teacher ratios and student achievement in a country or state’s primary schools?  How does instruction differ among teachers in a school district who receive different amounts of staff development? Why do teacher qualifications influence instruction?  These are examples of the types of questions that educational researchers ask.  The data that they gather usually include a locational component, and hence, mapping that data often provides insight and leads to new questions and lines of research.

GCSE results in England.

GCGE results using Esri Story Maps template.

In the past, the number of educational researchers engaged in mapping their data has been modest, in part perhaps because of the expertise required to do so.  But all of that is changing with the advent of easy-to-use yet powerful mapping tools.  One of them is ArcGIS Online, which allows for variables to be easily mapped from spreadsheets, analyzed, stored, and shared in the cloud. The number of ways to share the results includes Story Maps and web applications.  Another is Esri Maps for Office, which allows for data from Excel to be mapped and even embedded inside PowerPoint presentations.  None of these are static maps–they are live web maps that you or those you are communicating with can modify, add to, and change the scale in.

The above questions are examples of those asked in descriptive educational research.  Yet mapping holds value for some types of experimental research as well.  For example, a study that compares the achievement or attitudes of students before and after an educational intervention can be mapped and compared with the sociodemographics and even environmental variables of where they reside.

The Esri education team is keenly interested in serving the needs of educational researchers.  Esri regularly participates in the American Educational Research Association’s annual conference; come see us this year in San Francisco or in the future.

How are you mapping your educational research, or how would you like to do so?

Joseph Kerski

About Joseph Kerski

Joseph Kerski is a geographer who believes that spatial analysis through digital mapping can transform education and society through better decision-making using the geographic perspective. He serves on the Esri education team and is active in GIS communication and outreach, creates GIS-based curriculum, conducts research in the effectiveness of GIS in education, teaches online and face-to-face courses on spatial thinking and analysis, and fosters partnerships to support GIS in formal and informal education at all levels, internationally. He is the co-author of Spatial Mathematics, The Essentials of the Environment, The GIS Guide to Public Domain Data, and other books. Follow him on Twitter @josephkerski
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  1. aballardcnm says:

    I am working at the University of New Mexico’s Center for Education Policy Research and am very interested in GIS applications and data visualizations for policy support. We do a lot of mapping of education related parameters and are excited to get more interactive! I’m glad to see this group and get involved however I can.

  2. Joseph Kerski Joseph Kerski says:

    To follow up the essay above, I have just completed a new video about mapping your educational research:

    –Joseph Kerski

  3. philipp37 says:

    Here’s a site that might help engage people in GIS a little more…it’s an easy way to stay current because it shows all of the latest GIS related content on the web in once central place. Something new anyway. Check it out: