DIFFERENCES IN DEVELOPMENT OF SPATIAL AND OBJECT VISUALIZATION ABILITY IN UNDERGRADUATE GEOSCIENCE COURSES
Results indicate that students significantly improved their visual-spatial thinking skills after enrollment in a geoscience course, which is consistent with findings of several previous studies. We also find significant positive correlations between performance on tasks involving spatial visualization, but no correlation between performance on spatial and object visualization tasks. This supports the idea that visual-spatial ability relies on multiple cognitive dimensions. Furthermore, performance on spatial visualization tasks correlates with overall course success, but performance on object visualization tasks does not, which may suggest that assessment is more linked to tasks coupled with spatial ability. Finally, students in upper level classes have better developed spatial visualization skills than those in lower level students. There is, however, no difference in their object visualization skills, possibly indicating that although students improve both skills in one course, only spatial visualization skills are retained. This may suggest that object visualization skills, as measured by this study, may be more content specific.