Supporting Spatial Thinking
By the end of this workshop, participants will:
- Be familiar with the research base on spatial cognition, especially as it pertains to spatial thinking in the geosciences;
- Know where to find cognitive research-based curricular materials to support the development of students' spatial thinking skills;
- Be able to describe multiple strategies and tools for improving students' spatial thinking skills; and
- Have a plan for incorporating existing curricular materials into their courses or for generating new curricular materials to support the development of students' spatial thinking skills.
1:30 Welcome and introduction
1:40 What spatial thinking tasks are challenging for our students?
1:50 Overview of research on spatial thinking in the geosciences (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 7.5MB Jul16 18), with a focus on strategies and tools that we can use to develop students' spatial thinking skills
2:10 Preliminary exploration of curricular materials supporting the development of spatial thinking skills
3:00 Discussion: What strategies for what challenges?
3:15 Work time: Participants develop their plans for incorporating existing curricular materials into their courses or begin drafting new curricular materials to support the development of students' spatial thinking skills
3:45 Wrap-up and workshop evaluation
Resources and references
- The GET Spatial Learning project includes a collection of blog posts related to spatial thinking and learning and will soon have a collection of teaching activities as well.
- The Spatial Thinking Workbook includes a collection of research-based spatial thinking teaching activities, a page about the instructional strategies on which they are based, and a short summary of prior research on spatial thinking.
- Steve Reynolds' website has a wealth of 3D geologic visualizations and curricular materials to go with them.
- Visible Geology (more info) 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.
Spatial Thinking Tests/Instruments
- There's a collection of spatial tests and instruments on the Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center (SILC) website.
Research and research summaries
- The program page from the 2016 workshop on Spatial Reasoning in the Geosciences includes several short presentations on spatial thinking in general and on subtopics, including penetrative thinking, mental rotation, and interpreting contour maps.
- The On the Cutting Edge project's Spatial Thinking Journal Club has a short summary of key ideas from several journal articles on spatial thinking.
- The project Bringing Research on Learning into the Geosciences has a page about Spatial Thinking in the Geosciences.
- Earth and Mind: How Geologists Think and Learn about the Earth's chapter on Spatial thinking in the geosciences and cognitive sciences: A cross-disciplinary look at the intersection of the two fields (Kastens and Ishikawa, 2006) is a good introduction to the topic.
- Earth and Mind II: A Synthesis of Research on Thinking and Learning in the Geosciences includes several articles on spatial thinking in the geosciences.
- Kim Kastens, Tim Shipley, and Martin Storksdieck have compiled a summary of the findings from their 2017 workshop on Educating Skillful Visualizers. They also presented a summary of this work in a webinar on educating skillful visualizers.
- Kim Kastens and Toru Ishikawa wrote a tutorial for geoscience faculty about Why Some Students Have Trouble with Maps and Spatial Representations.