Science education and visuospatial processing

Juan Cristobal Castro-Alonso*, David H. Uttal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Visuospatial processing is a key asset for thriving in health and natural sciences education and practice. Two critical reasons for this importance are that (a) science phenomena are often represented visuospatially, and (b) science is communicated among professionals by means of visual and spatial information. Furthermore, there is a reciprocal relation between visuospatial processing and science education. On the one hand, visuospatial processing helps in learning about health and natural sciences. On the other hand, education in health and natural sciences can produce a boost in different visuospatial abilities. In this review chapter, we support this two-way relationship using several examples of visuospatial abilities (e.g., mental rotation, mental folding, and field independence) and science disciplines (e.g., anatomy, surgery, biology, chemistry, and geology). We also describe visuospatial training as an effective way to enhance visuospatial abilities. Moreover, under some conditions, visuospatial training could also be transferred to related tasks, showing near, intermediate, and far transfer. In these cases, the most desirable but difficult outcome of visuospatial training is far transfer that produces higher science educational achievement. We also comment on various methodological problems about research on visuospatial training. Lastly, we discuss the instructional implications and future research directions that could better inform of this relationship between visuospatial processing and accomplishment in the fields of health and natural sciences.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVisuospatial processing for education in health and natural sciences
Editors Juan Cristobal Castro-Alonso
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
ISBN (Print)9783030209681, 9783030209698
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


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