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Book Chapter

Spatial Skills in Expert Structural Geologists

By
Margaret R. Tarampi
Margaret R. Tarampi
Center for Spatial Studies, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California 93106, U.S.A. (e-mail: margaret.tarampi@sagecenter.ucsb.edu)
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Kinnari Atit
Kinnari Atit
Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, 2029 Sheridan Rd., Evanston, Illinois 60208, U.S.A. (e-mail: kinnari.atit@northwestern.edu)
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Heather L. Petcovic
Heather L. Petcovic
Department of Geosciences and the Mallinson Institute for Science Education, Western Michigan University, 1903 W. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo, Michigan 49008, U.S.A. (e-mail: heather.petcovic@wmich.edu)
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Thomas F. Shipley
Thomas F. Shipley
Department of Psychology, Temple University, 1701 N. 13th St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19122, U.S.A. (e-mail: tshipley@temple.edu)
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Mary Hegarty
Mary Hegarty
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California 93106, U.S.A. (e-mail: mary.hegarty@psych.ucsb.edu)
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Published:
January 01, 2016

Abstract

It has been well established that spatial thinking is important to success in the sciences, but differences exist in spatial thinking between different science fields. Previously Hegarty et al. (2010) investigated differences in self-reported spatial abilities in a variety of non-scientific and scientific fields, including the geosciences. Geoscientists had the highest self-report ratings for spatial abilities compared to all other disciplines. In the present study, expert structural geologists were evaluated on a battery of paper-and-pencil tests that measure domain-general spatial abilities (i.e., the Perspective Taking/Spatial Orientation Test and the Paper Folding Test), a domain-specific spatial skill (i.e., the Geologic Block Cross-Sectioning Test), and self-reported spatial skill (i.e., the Santa Barbara Sense of Direction Scale). Compared to undergraduate students, expert structural geologists scored significantly higher on tests of cross-sectioning (i.e., spatial reasoning about internal structures based on surface information) and spatial perspective taking (i.e., mental transformation of one’s perspective relative to spatial forms), and rated their environmental spatial ability (i.e., sense of direction) as higher, but they performed no different from undergraduates on a test of spatial visualization (i.e., the Paper Folding Test). Taken together, self-report questionnaires alongside psychometric tests can start to elucidate differences in spatial abilities among scientists and in the spatial thinking required by each field.

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Contents

AAPG Memoir

3-D Structural Interpretation: Earth, Mind, and Machine

Bob Krantz
Bob Krantz
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Carol Ormand
Carol Ormand
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Brett Freeman
Brett Freeman
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American Association of Petroleum Geologists
Volume
111
ISBN electronic:
9781629812779
Publication date:
January 01, 2016

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