Innovative Higher Education

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 5–16

Enhancing learning in the life sciences through spatial perception

  • Thomas R. Lord

DOI: 10.1007/BF00889733

Cite this article as:
Lord, T.R. Innov High Educ (1990) 15: 5. doi:10.1007/BF00889733


Recent educational research finds if students are encouraged to form mental images of events, objects and written or spoken words, learning of the material is enhanced. The inability to image an item may, in fact, hinder one's learning efforts in some disciplines. To find if low spatial apptitude does have a deleterious effect on learning in the life sciences, two hundred and fifty undergraduates taking a nonmajor's biology course were given tests to measure their visual-spatial awareness. Students falling more than one standard deviation from the mean were classified as low in spatial cognition and were randomly sorted into an experimental and a control group. Exercises known to enhance spatial understanding were conducted weekly with the experimental group. When the final grades for the course were examined at the end of the semester, it was found that students in the experimental group scored significantly better than the control group in the biology course. These students, however, did not reach the same level of proficiency as the students who were measuring high in spatial ability initially.

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas R. Lord
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyIndiana University of PennsylvaniaIndiana

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