Initial Publication Date: June 24, 2016

References and Resources

The following references and resources, while not an exhaustive list, are intended to provide a solid foundation of information about the current (2016) state of research on spatial reasoning, with a focus on spatial reasoning in the geosciences. We may post some of the articles in the private (password protected) participant workspace. We will also add references here based on the specifics of what we talk about and use in each module of the workshop. If you have any resources to recommend, please add them in the discussion box at the bottom of the page. Thanks!

Research Centers

Online Resources

Curricular Materials and Tools for Teaching

  • The Spatial Thinking Workbook has spatial thinking curricular materials for use in upper level geology courses.
  • Steve Reynolds' website has a wealth of 3D geologic visualizations and curricular materials to go with them.
  • Visible Geology is an interactive online educational tool for visualizing 3D geologic block models. You - or your students - can create your own stratigraphy, deform it, look at it in map view and 3D perspective, slice through it, plot beds on a stereonet, and more.

Research Synopses

Spatial Thinking Tests/Instruments


Journal Articles

  • Atit, Kinnari, Barbara Dutrow, Carol Ormand, and Thomas F. Shipley (2013). Gesture and Three-Dimensional Visualization: AAPG Hedberg Conference on 3D Structural Geologic Interpretation (Reno, NV).
  • Cockett, Rowan, Tara Moran, and Adam Pidlisecky (in press). Visible Geology: Creative online tools for teaching, learning, and communicating geologic concepts.
  • Gagnier, Kristin Michod, Kinnari Atit, Carol J. Ormand, and Thomas F. Shipley. Comprehending Diagrams: Sketching to Support Spatial Reasoning. Submitted to Topics in Cognitive Science.
  • Goldin-Meadow, Susan (2011). Learning Through Gesture. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, v. 2, n. 6, pp. 595"607.
  • Goldin-Meadow, Susan, Howard Nusbaum, Spencer D. Kelly, and Susan Wagner (2001). Explaining Math: Gesturing Lightens the Load: Psychological Science, v. 12, n. 6, pp. 516-522.
  • Kali, Y. and Orion, N. (1996). Spatial abilities of high-school students in the perception of geologic structures. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, v. 33, pp. 369-391.
  • Kastens, K.A. and Ishikawa, T. (2006). Spatial thinking in the geosciences and cognitive sciences: A cross-disciplinary look at the intersection of the two fields, in Earth and Mind: How Geologists Think and Learn about the Earth, GSA Special Paper 413, pp. 53-76.
  • Kozhevnikov, Maria, Stephen Rosslyn, and Jennifer Shephard (2005). Spatial versus object visualizers: A new characterization of visual cognitive style. Memory and Cognition, v. 33, n. 4, pp. 710-726.
  • Luo, Wei, Jon Pelletier, Kirk Duffin, Carol Ormand, Wei-chen Hung, David J. Shernoff, Xiaoming Zhai, Ellen Iverson, Kyle Whalley, Courtney Gallaher, and Walter Furness (2016). Advantages of computer simulation in enhancing students' learning about landform evolution: A case study using the Grand Canyon. Journal of Geoscience Education, v. 64, No. 1, pp. 60-73.
  • Newcombe, Nora, Steven M. Weisberg, Kinnari Atit, Matthew E. Jacovina, Carol J. Ormand, and Thomas F. Shipley (2015). The Lay of the Land: Sensing and Representing Topography. The Baltic International Yearbook of Cognition, Logic, and Communication, v. 10: Perspectives on Spatial Cognition, n. 1, pp. 1-57.
  • Ormand, Carol J., Cathryn A. Manduca, Thomas F. Shipley, Basil Tikoff, Cara L. Harwood, Kinnari Atit, and Alexander P. Boone (2014). Evaluating Geoscience Students' Spatial Thinking Skills in a Multi-Institutional Classroom Study: Journal of Geoscience Education, v. 62, n. 1, pp. 146-154. JGE Paper of the Year.
  • Ormand, Carol J., Thomas F. Shipley, Charles Kiven, J. Steve Davis, Dale Klopfer, and Peter Vrolijk (2014). The Geologic Block Cross-Sectioning Test: Insights Into the Novice-Expert Spectrum in Visual Penetrative Ability: Geological Society of America annual meeting (Vancouver, BC).
  • Piburn, Michael D., Stephen J. Reynolds, Carla McAuliffe, Debra E. Leedy, James P. Birk, and Julia Johnson (2005). The role of visualization in learning from computer-based images. International Journal of Science Education, v. 27, n. 5, pp. 513-527.
  • Rapp, David N., Steven A. Culpepper, Kent Kirkby, and Paul Morin ((2007). Fostering Students' Comprehension of Topographic Maps. Journal of Geoscience Education, v. 55, n. 1, pp. 5-16.
  • Shepard, R.N. and Metzler, J.T. (1971). Mental rotation of three dimensional objects. Science, v. 171, pp. 701-703.
  • Shipley, Thomas F., Basil Tikoff, Carol J. Ormand, and Cathryn A. Manduca (2013). Structural Geology Practice and Learning, from the Perspective of Cognitive Science: Journal of Structural Geology, v. 54, pp. 72-84.
  • Stieff, Mike, Bonnie L. Dixon, Minding Ryu, Bryna C. Kumi, & Mary Hegarty (2013). Strategy Training Eliminates Sex Differences in Spatial Problem Solving in a STEM Domain. Journal of Educational Psychology.
  • Titus, Sarah J., and Eric Horsman (2009). Characterizing and improving spatial visualization skills. Journal of Geoscience Education, v. 57, pp. 242-254.
  • Uttal, D.H. and Cohen, C.A. (2012). Spatial thinking and STEM education: When, why and how? In B. Ross, ed., Psychology of Learning and Motivation, v. 57, pp. 147-181. Oxford: Academic Press.
  • Vandenberg, S.G., and Kuse, A.R. (1978). Mental rotations, a group test of three-dimensional spatial visualization. Perceptual and Motor Skills, v. 47, pp. 599-604.
  • Wilson, Margaret (2002). Six Views of Embodied Cognition. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, v. 9, n. 4, pp. 625-636.

Books, etc.

References and Resources -- Discussion  

Augmented reality sandbox


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This post was edited by Sarah Nakamoto on Jan, 2020


Share edittextuser=541 post_id=30098 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=11188

Physical model of ternary phase diagram. I gotta build one of these, would be GREAT for petrology class.


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Laurel, I'm interested in building one as well for our program. Do you have any idea what they used to build this model?

Originally Posted by Laurel Goodell

Physical model of ternary phase diagram. I gotta build one of these, would be GREAT for petrology class.


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