Educational Psychology Review

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 245–269

Spatial Ability: Its Influence on Learning with Visualizations—a Meta-Analytic Review

Review Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10648-010-9126-7

Cite this article as:
Höffler, T.N. Educ Psychol Rev (2010) 22: 245. doi:10.1007/s10648-010-9126-7


This meta-analytical review focuses on the role of spatial ability when learning with pictorial visualizations. By means of selective theoretical review and meta-analysis (the latter regarding 27 different experiments from 19 studies), several sub-factors of spatial ability are considered as well as dynamic and non-dynamic, interactive and non-interactive visualizations. An overall effect of r = 0.34 (95%-CI 0.28 to 0.39) demonstrating a medium advantage for high-spatial-ability learners when working with visualizations is calculated. More importantly, two moderators could be identified: Learners with low spatial ability can be significantly supported by a dynamic instead of a non-dynamic visualization as well as by 3d- instead of 2d-illustrations. Results are discussed in consideration of contemporary theories of multimedia learning.


Visualization Spatial ability Meta-analysis Static pictures Animation 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Leibniz-Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN) at the University of KielKielGermany

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