The role of visualization in learning from computer-based images

Michael D. Piburn, Stephen Reynolds, Carla McAuliffe, Debra E. Leedy, Julia K. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Among the sciences, the practice of geology is especially visual. To assess the role of spatial ability in learning geology, we designed an experiment using: web-based versions of spatial visualization tests, (2) a geospatial test, and (3) multimedia instructional modules built around Quick Time Virtual Reality movies. Students in control and experimental sections were administered measures of spatial orientation and visualization, as well as a content-based geospatial examination. All subjects improved significantly in their scores on spatial visualization and the geospatial examination. There was no change in their scores on spatial orientation. A three-way analysis of variance, with the geospatial examination as the dependent variable, revealed significant main effects favoring the experimental group and a significant interaction between treatment and gender. These results demonstrate that spatial ability can be improved through instruction, that learning of geological content will improve as a result, and that differences in performance between the genders can be eliminated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-527
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 15 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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