Spatial thinking in astronomy education research

Merryn Cole, Cheryl Cohen, Jennifer Wilhelm, Rebecca Lindell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


[This paper is part of the Focused Collection on Astronomy Education Research.] Multiple studies show that spatial thinking skills contribute to students' performance in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines. The study of astronomy is no different with the understanding of many astronomical phenomena requiring spatial thinking skills. This paper describes traditional and contemporary approaches to characterizing and measuring spatial thinking skills and suggests how they inform research in astronomy education. It summarizes previous literature in astronomy education research and categorizes the research approaches of astronomy education peer-reviewed journal articles and conference proceedings that explicitly consider the role of spatial thinking. Additionally, it recommends directions and curricular approaches for astronomy education research informed by current research in spatial thinking.

Original languageEnglish
Article number010139
JournalPhysical Review Physics Education Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 15 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 authors. Published by the American Physical Society.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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