The Influence of Spatial Ability on the Use of Dynamic, Interactive Animation in a Spatial Problem-Solving Task

Cheryl A. Cohen

This protocol study investigated the differences in problem-solving strategies used by participants with low- and high-spatial ability on a spatial visualization task. The task required participants to draw the cross section of an imaginary 3D computer object. Participants had unrestricted access to two dynamic animations of the stimulus object during the task. Three sources of data were used to analyze performance: 1) frequency of animation use; 2) coded verbal reports; and 3) accuracy on the drawing task. Preliminary analyses suggest that high spatial participants interacted with the animations more frequently did low-spatial participants. High spatial participants also mentioned a greater variety and number of physical and spatial features of the stimulus object than low spatial participants. Finally, high spatial participants drew more accurate representations of cross sections than low-spatial participants.

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