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ERIC Number: EJ1164435
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-May
Pages: 5
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1089-9995
Developing Transferrable Geospatial Skills in a Liberal Arts Context
Colaianne, Blake A.; Powell, Matthew G.
Journal of Geoscience Education, v59 n2 p93-97 May 2011
Geology education usually takes place within the context of a broader curriculum, but specific synergies between disciplines have rarely been explored or exploited. Here, we have assessed the spatial visualization skills of undergraduate students in a variety of disciplines to determine which are most compatible with a geology curriculum. Spatial abilities are considered one of the most important cognitive skills in the geosciences but there has been little comparative work among disciplines (and particularly non-Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics disciplines). Our results demonstrate that geology students had the highest average spatial test scores (a mean of 16.4 out of a possible 20) among the 11 disciplines assessed, and this remained true even after correcting for the effects of gender and grade point average. Both physics and fine arts students also performed well on this assessment. A major implication of our study is that geology students can deliberately enhance their spatial abilities by taking courses in other fields, such as the fine arts, which are known to build those same abilities. In this way, geology curricula may be developed to maximize the benefits of a broad education and thus, ultimately, produce higher-performing geologists.
National Association of Geoscience Teachers. Carleton College W-SERC, One North College Street, Northfield, MN 55057. Tel: 540-568-6675; Fax: 540-568-8058; e-mail:; Website:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Pennsylvania
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A