HOW GEOSCIENTISTS SEE 3D: LEARNING FROM THE 2013 3D INTERPRETATION HEDBERG CONFERENCE
By the end of the conference, many of the participants expressed significant new insights. These included a new appreciation for the complexity of the interpretation mission, both geologically and cognitively; a deeper understanding of the distance between novice and expert geoscientists, exemplified by the complexity of 3D interpretation; a developing understanding of the benefits of understanding the cognitive processes and cognitive challenges of our work; and a desire to learn from and improve computerized visualizations of the data. There are obvious implications in this for teaching and training, and in the application of research-proven strategies to help move people from novice to expert more efficiently.
For the majority of the conference participants, the cognitive science perspective on what we do, how we do it, and how we can teach/train people to do what we do was completely new. A few key ideas generated a high level of interest. First among these is that spatial cognition improves with practice, but also degenerates with disuse. Furthermore, whatever we can do to reduce the cognitive demands of visualizing spatially complex datasets frees our minds to analyze and interpret the data. Strategies that are known to help with cognitive off-loading include gesturing, sketching, and, simplifying software. All of this will help prepare the next generation of interpreters.