Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 8:40 AM
A PRELIMINARY GEOCOGNITIVE STUDY USED TO ANALYZE SPATIAL VISUAL LEARNING BETWEEN GEOLOGY MAJORS AND NON-MAJORS
Spatial literacy provides a descriptive, analytic, and inferential function that directly relates to the core of geologic reasoning and understanding. Although there is a vast amount of research emerging from multiple disciplines regarding spatial learning, there is little research on comparing geology majors to non-majors. Geology majors are required to convey appearances, understand structures, as well as generate answers to questions about the evolution and function of objects. In order to test the hypothesis that geology majors would out perform non-majors on spatial visual tasks and thereby possibly uncover any differences between majors and non-majors, data was collected on a sub-set of geology majors (n=24) and non-majors (n=30) from Kansas State University. Both populations were administered a Spatial Visual Test, Group Assessment for Logical Thinking, a Prior Knowledge Survey, and a Contour Map Memory Test (CMMT) over the semester. The results of this study provided preliminary data that suggests a difference between majors and non-majors regarding spatial ability. The geology majors are operating at higher formal reasoning levels and score higher on spatial tests than do non-majors. A combination of formal understanding and information processing is critical to understanding the three dimensional domains of geology. Learning strategies that develop spatial visualization aptitude is primary for student success in careers in geology and dictate further research in this area especially when research has shown that proper instruction can reduce performance differences.