Table of Contents


Why Some Students Have Trouble
with Maps and Spatial Representations
An On-line Tutorial for Geoscience Faculty

Unit 1: About Spatial Thinking

• What are Spatial Abilities and How Do
They Pertain to Geoscience Tasks?

• How Cognitive Scientists Study Spatial Thinking
and How their Studies Relate to Geoscience Tasks

• Mentally Rotating an Image

• Recognizing Patterns and Shapes

• Mentally Manipulate a Surface or Volume and
Envision the Results

• Envision Structure in Three Dimensions from
Information Given in Two Dimensions

Understanding the Relationship between Objects
and the Vertical/Horizontal Frame of Reference

• Envisioning a 3-D Object or Volume from
Different Viewpoints

• Recalling Location and Appearance
of Previously Observed Objects

• Field-Based Learning

Unit 1: About Spatial Thinking, Part 2

• Key Findings of Research on Spatial Thinking
That May Pertain to Geoscience Teaching and Learning

• Individual Differences in Spatial Ability

• Spatial vs. Verbal Ability

• Male-Female Difference in Spatial Ability–a

• Male-Female Difference in Spatial Ability–b

• Effectiveness of Training on Performance of Spatial Tasks

• Relationship between Spatial Ability
and Instructional Strategy

Unit 2: Using Maps in the Field

• Using Maps in the Field

• Understanding Where You are Relative to a Map–a

• Understanding Where You are Relative to a Map–b

• Representational Correspondence between Map
and Represented Space

• Configurational Correspondence between Map
and Represented Space

• Directional Correspondence between Map
and Represented Space

• Perspective Taking

Unit 3: Topographic Maps

• How Do People Use and Interpret Topographic Maps?

• How Do Cognitive Scientists Study People's Understanding

of Topographic Maps?

• Answer Questions about the Terrain by Referring to the Map

• Compare the Map with Another Representation–a

• Compare the Map with Another Representation–b

• Compare the Map with the Represented Terrain

Unit 3: Topographic Maps, Part 2

• Findings and Implications of Cognitive Studies
of Topographic Map Use

• Strategies Used by Successful, Experienced Map Readers

• Selective Encoding: Experts Extract Information as Necessary

• Effects of "Schemata"

Unit 4: 3-D Phenomena

• How Do People Comprehend 3-D Phenomena

• The Difficulty of Visualizing 3-D Structures

• Types of Errors in Visualizing 3-D Structures

• Different Approaches to Training on 3-D Task

• Computer-based Training on 3-D Geological Task