About this Project
The Spatial Thinking Workbook project is focused on improving spatial skills in upper-division undergraduate geoscience courses. Specifically, our goal is to improve students' penetrative thinking skills (ability to imagine what the interior of an object looks like), using an intellectual framework from cognitive science and innovative teaching in the geological sciences.
Our approach is two-fold:
- Develop an online workbook of exercises; and
- Explicitly incorporate student gesture into curricular materials.
Both sets of exercises will be developed collaboratively with geoscience faculty and cognitive science researchers, building on the results of prior research. The workbook exercises will use both non-geological and geological examples. Our rationale is that non-geological exercises will be used to effectively distinguish the different aspects of penetrative thinking about which students have problems, and provide skill development that is indicated by cognitive science. The geological examples will be developed collaboratively with geoscience faculty and cognitive science researchers, but will focus on application of cognitive science research to geological examples. All workbook exercises will build from simple to complex, and will scaffold students' penetrative thinking skills. The same exercises will be tested in three different geoscience courses at three different institutions. Our premise is that spatial skills, much like math skills, once developed, can be used effectively in a variety of venues.
We will also develop a parallel set of supplemental online resources for instructors, including a summary of research on spatial reasoning and learning and recommended strategies for using the workbook exercises and the gesture exercises with their classes.
- Carol Ormand (SERC, Carleton College)
- Cathy Manduca (SERC, Carleton College)
- Tim Shipley (Psychology, Temple University)
- Basil Tikoff (Geosciences, UW-Madison)
- Barb Dutrow (Geology and Geophysics, Louisiana State University)
- Laurel Goodwin (Geosciences, UW-Madison)
- Tom Hickson (Geology, University of St. Thomas)
Postdoctoral Fellows and Graduate Students
- Kinnari Atit (Psychology, Temple University)
- Kristin Gagnier (Psychology, Temple University)
- Ilyse Resnick (Psychology, Temple University)
This project is funded by the National Science Foundation, under grant award #1044245.
Disclaimer: Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.