THE SPATIAL THINKING WORKBOOK: DEVELOPING STUDENTS’ SPATIAL THINKING SKILLS IN UPPER-LEVEL UNDERGRADUATE GEOLOGY COURSES THROUGH CURRICULAR MATERIALS BASED ON COGNITIVE SCIENCE RESEARCH
Our research team, composed of geoscientists and cognitive psychologists, has collaborated to develop curricular materials for Mineralogy, Structural Geology, and Sedimentology & Stratigraphy courses that incorporate these strategies intentionally and purposefully, supporting student understanding of the spatially challenging concepts and skills in these courses. Collectively, these two dozen learning activities comprise the Spatial Thinking Workbook. Eight are specific to Mineralogy, five to Sedimentology & Stratigraphy, seven to Structural Geology, and five can be utilized in any course. Pre- to post-test gains on a suite of assessment instruments, as well as embedded assessments, show that these curricular materials boost students’ spatial thinking skills and also strengthen their ability to solve geological problems with a spatial component. Keys to the development of successful activities are the identification of a spatially challenging concept or skill and the effective use of one or more strategies that support spatial thinking.