July 25, 2011

Mental Reconstruction

As our phase 3 BVS3D research efforts came to a close, we took the opportunity to conduct wrap-up site visits. While conducting student and teacher one-on-one interviews and observing 3D lessons, some interesting discoveries materialized. One such finding, emerging from our teacher interviews, we labeled learning replay, which is described in the previous post. Another student behavior we observed may perhaps be best labeled as mental reconstruction.

The phenomenon of mental reconstruction occurred frequently within our 3D classrooms, affecting both students and teachers alike. Students would explain that, while taking a test several weeks following a 3D lesson, they could clearly ‘see’ or visualize the concept, construct or phenomena in their mind as they tackled a question. One student I spoke with, immediately following a 3D classroom lesson, described that 3D helped him “see things more clearly in my mind—like building a mental picture.” This sort of spatial or ‘visual’ thinking was even evidenced by teachers, who saw pictures in their mind as they were planning for upcoming lessons.

As teachers described this phenomenon, noting the apparent mind’s eye reconstruction that was taking place, we knew we were observing something else unique coming out of our 3D classroom experiment— mental reconstruction. As more schools and universities engage in continued studies of 3D learning, this may track into a potentially useful research question. It may be useful to track, observe, describe, and explain the concept of mental reconstruction in your own projects.

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