The effects of visualization format and spatial ability on learning star motions

Tzu Ling Wang, Yi Kuan Tseng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to investigate not only the effectiveness of dynamic versus static visualizations on learning star motions but also the influence of students' spatial abilities with these two types of visualizations on their learning. We assigned 155 fifth-grade students to either a dynamic or a static condition. We used a science achievement test to measure student learning outcomes by assessing knowledge acquisition. We classified students as having either a low or high spatial ability based on their test scores for primary mental abilities, specifically spatial relations. The results showed that dynamic visualizations were more effective than static visualizations for learning complex concepts involving star motions. Furthermore, learners' spatial abilities had a positive effect on their learning outcomes but did not moderate the effectiveness of dynamic versus static visualizations for learning in this domain. Our findings suggest that when designing instructional materials, the dynamic properties of visualizations should be aligned with the dynamic nature of the subject matter. We conclude that students' spatial abilities are beneficial to learning, especially when they are studying a complex domain that demands spatial changes and moving processes; therefore, our findings support the importance of assessing spatial ability in learning with visualizations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-69
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Computer Assisted Learning
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • dynamic visualizations
  • motions of stars
  • spatial ability
  • static visualizations


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