A correlational study of seven projective spatial structures with regard to the phases of the moon
This study investigated the relationship between projective spatial structures and the ability to construct a scientific model. In addition, gender-related performance and the influence of prior astronomy experience on task success were evaluated. Sixty-one college science undergraduates were individually administered Piagetian tasks to assess for projective spatial structures and the ability to set up a phases of the moon model. The spatial tasks included: (a) Mountains task (coordination of perspectives); (b) Railroad task (size and intervals of objects with increasing distance); (c) Telephone Poles task (masking and ordering objects); and (d) Shadows task (spatial relationships between an object and its shadow, dependent upon the object's orientation). Cramer coefficient analyses indicated that significant relationships existed between Moon task and spatial task success. In particular, the Shadows task, requiring subjects to draw shadows of objects in different orientations, proved most difficult and was most strongly associated with with a subject's understanding of lunar phases. Chi-square tests for two independent samples were used to analyze gender performance differences on each of the Ave tasks. Males performed significantly better at a.05 significance level in regard to the Shadows task and the Moon task. Chi-square tests for two independent samples showed no significant difference in Moon task performance between subjects with astronomy or Earth science coursework, and those without such science classroom experience. Overall, only six subjects passed all seven projective spatial structure tasks. Piaget (1967) contends that concrete -operational spatial structures must be established before an individual is able to develop formal-operational patterns of thinking. The results of this study indicate that 90% of the interviewed science majors are still operating at the concrete-operational level. Several educational implications were drawn from this study: (1) The teaching of spatially dependent content to students without prerequisite spatial structures results in understanding no further beyond that which can be memorized; (2) assessment for projective spatial structures should precede science lessons dealing with time-space relationships, and (3) a student's level of spatial ability may directly impact upon interpretation of three-dimensional models.
Wellner, K. L. (1995). A Correlational Study of Seven Projective Spatial Structures with Regard to the Phases of the MOON^. Ph.D. Thesis. The University of Iowa, USA
Type of Publication
Wellner, Karen L.
The University of Iowa
Number of Pages
Nation(s) of Study
United States of America