NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
PDF on ERIC Download full text
ERIC Number: EJ1164746
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Sep
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1089-9995
Characterizing and Improving Spatial Visualization Skills
Titus, Sarah; Horsman, Eric
Journal of Geoscience Education, v57 n4 p242-254 Sep 2009
Three-dimensional spatial visualization is an essential skill for geoscientists. We conducted two evaluations of students' spatial skills to examine whether their skills improve after enrollment in a geology course or courses. First, we present results of pre- and post-course survey of abstract visualization skills used to characterize the range of spatial abilities in the student population at Carleton College. In Introductory Geology, there was a correlation between those who score very poorly on the spatial survey and those who receive a grade of C or lower. Students in higher-level courses had better developed visualization skills than those in Introductory Geology. Gender differences disappeared in upper-level courses except for the spatial relations (mental rotation) task, where male students consistently outperformed females. Second, we describe the efficacy of instructional materials designed for a Structural Geology course at the University of Wisconsin. This study included a qualitative controlled experiment investigating whether frequent use of stereographic projections affected student performance on exam questions requiring spatial skills. The results of both the survey-based quantitative study and materials-based qualitative study suggest that students' spatial abilities can improve through practice provided in geology courses.
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: Minnesota; Wisconsin
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A