Research in Science Education

, 36:269 | Cite as

The Effect of Verbal and Visuo-Spatial Abilities on the Development of Knowledge of the Earth

  • Eve Kikas


Difficulties in students’ understanding of the spherical model of the Earth have been shown in previous studies. One of the reasons for these difficulties lies in beliefs and preliminary knowledge that hinder the interpretation of the scientific knowledge, the other reason may lie in the low level of verbal and visuo-spatial abilities. The study aims to investigate the effect of verbal and visuo-spatial abilities, but also that of preliminary knowledge on the later development of the knowledge of the Earth in school. 176 schoolchildren (96 boys and 80 girls) from five schools were tested; the mean age of the children during the first interview was seven years and eight months. All students were interviewed twice – in grades 1 and 2, before and after they had learnt the topic in school. Factual, scientific and synthetic knowledge was assessed. The facilitative effect of visuo-spatial and verbal abilities and preliminary factual and scientific knowledge on students’ knowledge of astronomy after having learnt the topic in school was shown. In contrast, the hindering effect of synthetic knowledge was not found.

Key Words

conceptual development elementary astronomy factual knowledge learning scientific knowledge synthetic knowledge 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversity of Tartu, Estonian Centre of Behavioural and Health SciencesTartuEstonia
  2. 2.Faculty of EducationUniversity of TartuTartuEstonia

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