AUTHORS: Maria-Elena Froese, Melanie Tory, Guy-Warwick Evans, Kedar Shrikhande

ABSTRACT: Conflicting results are reported in the literature on whether dynamic visualizations are more effective than static visualizations for learning and mastering 3-D tasks, and only a few investigations have considered the influence of the spatial abilities of the learners. In a study with 117 participants, we compared the benefit of static vs. dynamic visualization training tools on learners with different spatial abilities performing a typical 3-D task (specifically, creating orthographic projections of a 3-D object). We measured the spatial abilities of the participants using the Mental Rotation Test (MRT) and classified participants into two groups (high and low abilities) to examine how the participants’ abilities predicted change in performance after training with static versus dynamic training tools. Our results indicate that: 1) visualization training programs can help learners to improve 3-D task performance, 2) dynamic visualizations provide no advantages over static visualizations that show intermediate steps, 3) training programs are more beneficial for individuals with low spatial abilities than for individuals with high spatial abilities, and 4) training individuals with high spatial abilities using dynamic visualizations provides little benefit.

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