The Nature of Anthropomorphic Mental Images Created by Low and High Spatial Ability Students for Different Astronomical and Microscopic Scientific Topics

By Sulaiman Al-Balushi.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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The main purpose of the current study is to investigate the anthropomorphic images created by low and high spatial learners for different scientific topics. The sample included 79 ninth- and tenth-grade female students in the Sultanate of Oman. Two instruments were used: the Learners' Anthropomorphic Mental Images (LAMI) instrument, to determine the average number of anthropomorphic images created by participants, and the Water-Level Task (WLT) instrument, to classify participants as either high or low spatial ability learners. The results indicate that the generation of anthropomorphic images seems to be topic-dependent: more anthropomorphic mental images were produced for the “water transformations” topic than for the “cell division” and “journey into space” topics. In addition, dynamic interactions triggered more anthropomorphic images than static entities, and low spatial students produced more anthropomorphic mental images than high spatial students. These results are supported by previous research indicating that low spatial ability learners tend to add more details to their mental images when they visualize scientific entities and phenomena than high spatial learners. The generation of these unrealistic details during visualization might hinder conceptualization. To address this epistemological deficiency, the study recommends that techniques that enhance spatial ability should be used with low spatial ability learners to help them focus on the spatial arrangements of the phenomenon under study and eliminate unnecessary details.

Keywords: Animism, Anthropomorphism, Guided Imagery, Humanization, Imagination, Mental Images, Science Education, Spatial Ability, Water-Level Task (WLT)

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp.51-63. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 312.699KB).

Dr. Sulaiman Al-Balushi

Associate Professor, Curriculum & Instruction Department, College of Education, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Muscat, Oman

Dr. Al-Balushi is an associate professor of science education in the College of Education at Sultan Qaboos University, Oman. He has published a number of articles related to mental visualization in science. His research interests include science inquiry, modern science teaching techniques, teacher education, and creativity and thinking skills.