Research

The Spatial Thinking Lab conducts research on Large Scale or Environmental Spatial Cognitive processes, including learning the layout of new environments, wayfinding and navigation in known environments, and representing and communicating spatial information. This research has contributed new measures, such as the Santa Barbara Sense-of-Direction Scale, and basic research on the nature individual differences in large scale spatial cognition. Current research is focused on identifying fundamental individual differences in neurological and cognitive processes as well as attitudes that differentiate people with a good vs. poor sense of direction.
The Spatial Thinking Lab is working to establish the foundations for capturing the uncertainty associated with predictive simulations for policy decision making. Aspects of the project include Simulation and uncertainty quantification, developing methods of visualizing uncertainty and evaluating these visualizations by examining perception, cognition, and decision making in the presence of visualizations of uncertainty.
Visuospatial thinking is a critical component of cognition in the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) domains. Across all STEM disciplines, experts reason about spatial relationships and transformation of those relationships. The spatial information that they consider varies substantially in scale, from small molecules to planetary objects. It also varies in complexity, from basic geometric shapes to the dynamic motion of particles in three-dimensional space. The centrality of visuospatial thinking in STEM practice has made it an important focus of research on STEM learning in K-16 settings. Students who demonstrate an affinity and aptitude for visuospatial thinking early in their education are more likely to succeed in STEM courses and to pursue STEM careers.