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, funded by a seed grant from the UCSB Center for Creative Biotechnologies, is focused on identifying fundamental differences in neurological and cognitive processes that differentiate people with a good vs. poor sense of direction. 

Fluid Eddy Visualization

The Spatial Thinking Lab is collaborating with researchers at the University of Utah, Clemsen University, and Texas A&M University 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. This project is supported by the National Science Foundation.

Our research investigates the relative effectiveness of concrete and virtual models for developing students’ representational competence in the domain of chemistry. Kozma & Russell (2005) define representational competence as ‘a set of skills and practices that allow a person to reflectively use a variety of representations or visualizations, singly and together, to think about, communicate, and act on chemical phenomena in terms of underlying, aperceptual physical entities and processes’.