Collaborative Research: Constructing Mental Images of Geologic Structures from Field Observations

Project: Research project

Project Details


The investigators propose to conduct a series of studies concerning how it is that people visualize and comprehend large-scale geologic structures and how it is that instructors in Geoscience ought best to teach about them. This project will contribute to basic knowledge of spatial cognition. The investigators will conduct a series of behavioral experiments, using artificial geologic outcrops constructed on the La11:lont-Doherty campus and using tabletop architectural models of the campus. The outcrops, each about a meter across, would together form a buried geologic structure, such as a basin, a symmetric syncline, or an asymmetric plunging syncline, at a realistic scale (i.e;,hundreds of meters across). The outcrops will not be visible from each

other, so the participants will need to integrate what can be seen to construct a mental image of the entire structure. !Participants will be guided around the outcrops and then be tested on their representations (e.g., askedtb choose accurate models of the structure). They will also take standard tests of spatial ability and verbal-spatial.learning style. The investigators will examine (a) the development of skill on the outcrop task among novices through practice and repetition in the absence ofinst~ction; (b) the relationship among spatial abilities, learning style, and performance on the outcrop task; and (c) strategies used by experts, low-performing noyices,and high-performing novices in doing the outcrop task.

Effective start/end date8/15/047/31/11


  • National Science Foundation: $234,944.00


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