Spatial Ability for University Biology Education
Studying and pursuing careers of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields demand spatial ability. Completing a university degree in biology is no exception. The aim of this study is to summarize key findings showing that there is a two-way relation between university biology education and spatial ability. The first aspect of this relation is the most investigated: spatial ability facilitates learning biology. However, the other aspect is also possible: learning biology may improve spatial ability. We present empirical evidence to support both possibilities. The focus is on university biology, and the spatial abilities of mental rotation and mental folding (spatial visualization). We present findings showing that these spatial abilities affect university biology learning and achievement from textual and visual materials. We also present correlational studies and experiments showing that university biology learning positively affects mental rotation and mental folding.
KeywordsBiology STEM Spatial ability Mental rotation Mental folding and spatial visualization
Funding from PIA–CONICYT Basal Funds for Centers of Excellence, Project FB0003 is gratefully acknowledged by the first author. Also, this research was supported by the Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center (National Science Foundation Grant SBE0541957) to the second author. We are thankful to Mariana Poblete and Monserratt Ibáñez for their assistance.
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