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Spatial Thinking

Mary Hegarty
Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences
University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, USA


In recent years there has been new recognition of the importance of spatial thinking in science and the need to foster this type of thinking in our educational system. But what is spatial intelligence and what are the best ways to improve it? The approach taken in my research is to study spatially intelligent activities as they occur in everyday life and in professions that are highly dependent on spatial thinking. To date I have examined spatial thinking in mechanical reasoning, medicine, meteorology, physics and chemistry and I look forward to the opportunity that this conference will give me to engage with highly spatial thinkers in the field of geology. Based on my research, I will discuss three aspects of spatial thinking; (1) imagining spatial structures and processes, (2) adaptive strategy choice between mental simulation and more analytic thinking, and (3) "meta-representational competence" in using and choosing spatial external spatial representations, including computer visualizations and simulations.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #120140© 2014 AAPG Hedberg Conference 3D Structural Geologic Interpretation: Earth, Mind and Machine, June 23-27, 2013, Reno, Nevada