Spatial learning and computer simulations in science

Robb Lindgren, Daniel L. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Interactive simulations are entering mainstream science education. Their effects on cognition and learning are often framed by the legacy of information processing, which emphasized amodal problem solving and conceptual organization. In contrast, this paper reviews simulations from the vantage of research on perception and spatial learning, because most simulations take a spatial format and the pedagogical intent is to promote learning. Four learning effects help clarify the positive and negative aspects of current simulation designs: picture superiority, noticing, structuring, and tuning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-438
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Computer simulations
  • K-12
  • Perceptual learning
  • Spatial learning
  • Undergraduate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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