Visualisation as an aspect of spatial problem-solving

Year: 1994

Author: Owens, Kay

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The issue of how visualisation as well as other thinking processes can affect spatial problem-solving was considered in a study involving students in Years 2 and 4 in primary school. The students undertook two-dimensional problem-solving activities during 11 sessions over a six-week period. Different samples of students were taken as the qualitative study progressed, as categories were developed, as interactions between categories were noted and then checked. From the students' behaviour, including stimulated recall, certain cognitive processes were inferred. Each incident in a problem-solving episode was coded in subcategories of each of the following: (a) manipulation and perception of concrete materials, (b) student-student and student- teacher interaction, (c) heuristics processing, (d) imagery (visualisation), (e) affective processes and (f) conceptual processing. More than 120 problem-solving sessions were analysed. A further six classrooms from different areas were then used to check the "story-line".

The analysis of the video-recorded data shows that visualisation was a major influence on the manipulation and perception of materials on the table. Visualisation tended to be important in the initial stages of the problem-solving and at later stages where a change in approach to the problem was needed. Different types of visualisation were involved, especially for different problems by different students. As problem-solving continued the imagery seemed to be supported by a concept.