Spatial Abilities of High-School Students in the Perception of Geologic Structures

Yael Kali, Nir Orion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The specific spatial abilities required for the study of basic structural geology were characterized by quantitative and qualitative data analysis. A geologic spatial ability test (GeoSAT) was developed and administered to 115 comprehensive high-school students. Six of these students were interviewed. An analysis of students' incorrect answers revealed two types of answers: (a) nonpenetrative answers, which were based on external exposures of the structure; and (b) penetrative answers, which indicated attempts at representing internal properties of the structure. Students who tended to give penetrative incorrect answers performed significantly higher than students who tended to give nonpenetrative incorrect answers. The reasoning of students for these types of answers, as determined by interviews, supported the initial assumption that these answers were given by students with different levels of ability mentally to penetrate the image of a structure, which was named visual penetration ability (VPA). The interview findings indicated that the VPA is one of two complementary factors needed to solve the problems of GeoSAT; the other factor is the ability to perceive the spatial configuration of the structure. It is concluded that the teaching and learning process should provide students with assistance in both of these areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-391
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Research in Science Teaching
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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