Computation and Visualization in the Earth Sciences

Lesson 4: Reading Discussion


The articles we'll read for this week's discussion are linked from the Lesson 4 discussion board in Canvas.

Required Reading

Coxon, S.V., 2012, Innovative allies: Spatial and creative abilities, Gifted Child Today, 35, p. 277-284.

Mayer, R.E., and V.K. Sims, 1994, For Whom Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? Extensions of a Dual-Coding Theory of Multimedia Learning, Journal of Educational Psychology, 86, p. 389-401.

The first paper discusses the fact that contemporary school curricula do not specifically address spatial visualization skills but that innovative teachers could quite easily incorporate activities that speak to these skills while still meeting the various standards of learning. Teaching kids some computer programming is specifically mentioned. If anybody wants to, go to the program called  "Scratch" and play around.

The second paper is by educational psychologists who are trying to discover what kind of person benefits from what kind of educational presentation. The idea is that while technology has enabled us to produce whiz-bang animations and graphics, research into whether these techniques actually help people learn hasn't quite caught up yet. So they ran some experiments to try to figure this out.

Questions for discussion

As you read, consider the following questions, which we will discuss as a class:

  1. What about the link between creativity and spatial skills? Can we teach creativity better?
  2. It seems to me that the Mayer and Sims paper talks about verbal v. spatial thinking but not really the object visualization pathway discussed by Kastens. Is that your sense, too? Is it worth teasing apart all these categorizations anyway?
  3. From more recent papers I think the jury is still out regarding whether animations lead to better understanding. Possibly because there doesn't seem to be any kind of way to measure how good an animation is at what it is trying to do. How would you go about measuring that?

Submitting your work

Once you have finished the readings, engage in a class discussion that will take place over the entire week devoted to Lesson 4. This discussion will require you to participate multiple times over that period.

  1. Enter the Lesson 4 - Papers Discussion Forum.
  2. You will see postings already there, each containing one of the discussion questions above.
  3. Post a response to each question. If you feel that your response has already been "said" by another student, then post a response to someone else's remarks that expands on what has already been said, asks for clarification, asks a follow-up question, or furthers the discussion in some other meaningful way. By the end of the activity, I would like you to post at least one original thought/opinion/question and at least one thoughtful response to someone else's post.

Grading criteria

You will be graded on the quality of your participation. See the grading rubric for specifics.