Spatial foundations of science education: The illustrative case of instruction on introductory geological concepts

Lynn S. Liben, Kim A. Kastens, Adam E. Christensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations

Abstract

To study the role of spatial concepts in science learning, 125 college students with high, medium, or low scores on a horizontality (water-level) spatial task were given information about geological strike and dip using existing educational materials. Participants mapped an outcrop's strike and dip, a rod's orientation, pointed to a distant building and north, and completed 3-dimensional horizontality and verticality tasks. Many students, particularly those with low water-level scores, experienced difficulty on both field and laboratory tasks and failed to use good field-observation strategies. Error patterns implicated roles of cognitive regularization of the environment, embodied spatial cognition, and map experience. Data relating performance to participants' spatial skills, gender, self-reported confidence in responses, spatial awareness, and strategy use suggest a range of instructional approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-87
Number of pages43
JournalCognition and Instruction
Volume29
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychology(all)

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