Quantifying Spatial Thinking Abilities in Meteorology Students Across the Curriculum

Poster Session Part of Friday Poster Session


Lauren Decker, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Casey Davenport, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Spatial thinking skills are essential to student success in disciplines such as geology, atmospheric science, and geography. In atmospheric science, skills such as mental animation, disembedding, and perspective taking have been shown to be particularly important for interpreting, understanding, and predicting the four-dimensional atmosphere. However, how students develop and improve such skills as they progress through the meteorology curriculum is unknown. In this study, the Spatial Thinking Abilities Test (STAT) is used to quantify the extent of spatial thinking abilities in undergraduate students enrolled in courses required for the meteorology major. Using a subset of 12 multiple choice questions, STAT is administered twice a semester in each course as a pre-test and post-test. In Spring 2022, data was collected from students across 5 courses. This presentation will discuss course-level gains in spatial thinking, and also provide comparisons in spatial thinking abilities across different courses and various demographic subgroups. Such analyses allow us to characterize how students' spatial thinking abilities changed or improved in each course and will help us identify where curriculum improvements could be made.