Differences in Spatial Reasoning Skills in Undergraduate Geology Students and the Effect of Weekly Spatial Skill Trainings
We have developed and implemented a toolkit for testing and training undergraduate student spatial reasoning skills in the classroom. In the Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 semesters, we are studying the distribution of spatial abilities in 374 undergraduate Geology students from 4 introductory and 2 upper level courses with labs at the University of Colorado Boulder. Four treatment groups receive weekly online training and intermittent hands-on trainings in spatial thinking while four control groups only participate in a pre- and a posttest.
In this presentation we will describe the distribution of spatial skills in undergraduate students enrolled in geology courses, and discuss the factors (e.g., video gaming, spatial sports activity, playing with construction based toys, or prior classes) that might explain the differences in spatial skill levels on pre-tests. We will further share the effect of the trainings modules on the development of spatial skills. We will discuss our data with a special focus on gender differences. We will also discuss the difference in spatial skills between introductory (nearly all non-majors) and upper level students (all majors). Our work provides insight into what types of interventions are successful in improving students' spatial skills.