GSA Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, USA - 2017

Paper No. 260-1
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


MYER, Rachel A.1, JAEGER, Allison J.1, MCLAUGHLIN, Jessica A.2, LOMBARDI, Doug3, SHIPLEY, Thomas F.1 and DAVATZES, Alexandra K.4, (1)Department of Psychology, Temple University, 1701 North 13th Street, Weiss Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19122, (2)Department of Education, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122, (3)Science Education, Temple University, 1301 Cecil B Moore Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19122, (4)Earth and Environmental Science, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122,

Spatial reasoning difficulties may impact student learning, but instruction can help overcome such difficulties. These studies explored the impact of two different forms of instruction on a particular spatial reasoning task. Study 1 involved high school students enrolled in Earth science (N = 102). Participants completed a problem-based task asking them to sketch a subsurface cross-section after receiving feedback data via written and teacher instructions (draw1: geographical map data; draw2: map and a core sample data; and draw3: map, core sample, and strike-dip data). Spatial reasoning reflected in participants’ drawings were scored as: 2-dimensional (2D) reasoning when drawings only reflected surface features, 3-dimensional (3D) straight-in when drawings had vertically oriented stratified layers, and 3D horizontal for horizontal stratified layers (i.e., scientifically correct drawing). Overall change in participants’ reasoning was scored as no change, weak change, or strong change. A Friedman nonparametric test revealed significant increases in participants’ drawing scores between draw1, 2, and 3; χ2(2) = 26.2, p < .001. Follow up Wilcoxon signed rank tests showed significant increases in all score categories from draw1 to 2, all zs > 3.64, ps < .001; but non-significant change from draw2 to 3 in all categories.

In study 2, undergraduate students enrolled in an introductory geology course completed the same subsurface reasoning task (N = 60), but changes were instead investigated over a semester-long introductory geology course. Spatial reasoning and change in reasoning were scored in the same way as Study 1. A repeated measures MANOVA revealed a significant score increase from draw1 to draw2, Wilks’ λ = .457, F(2,58) = 24.5, p < .001, η2 = .45.

Results suggest feedback using data shifted high school students spatial reasoning and an introductory geology course provided similar shifts for undergraduates. This work identifies some key aspects of learning in the context of traditional geoscience courses that can improve students’ spatial reasoning.