Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Education



First Reader/Committee Chair

Baek, Eun-Ok


In the literature on instructional media and its effects on learning, there is debate regarding whether a particular choice of media is essential for any given learning task. However, most studies that show conflicting results have not accounted for a differentiating learner characteristic known as spatial ability and its impact on the learner’s cognitive load when visualization is required. In this study, the interaction between instructional media and the learner’s spatial ability (specifically, their spatial visualization ability) was examined when the learner was required to work out a rigging problem in one of three ways: by manipulating a physical 3D model, by drawing their own visualization using paper and pencil, and by working through the problem with no additional intervention beyond the instructional video that all participants viewed. Prior to exposure to the rigging problem, each participant was given the Purdue Visualization of Rotations Test to determine a low or high spatial ability. When tested on the material after the learning task was completed, participants with high spatial ability performed higher than participants with low spatial ability, regardless of the treatment type. Some participants with low spatial ability who manipulated the 3D models scored so high, however, that they had to be marked as outliers and removed from the statistical analysis. The results of high performance by participants with high spatial visualization ability are consistent with prior research on spatial ability, and the high performance of outliers with low spatial visualization ability suggest that further investigation beyond this pilot study is merited.