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How Interactivity Works: priming of mental rotation

, Stony Brook University, United States ; , Abant Izzet Baysal University, Turkey

EdMedia + Innovate Learning, in Lugano, Switzerland ISBN 978-1-880094-53-2 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Waynesville, NC


This study has important implications for design of microworlds such as Hypergami, and Logo which use interactivity to help students learn spatial mental models involving math and science. This study tested the hypothesis that interactively rotating (dragging) virtual shapes primes mental rotation. The independent variable was interaction vs. observation: a) manually rotating a shape on the computer, versus b) watching an animation of a shape rotating. The dependent variable was mental rotation of the same shape. To address cross-cultural accessibility factors 9 year-old American and Turkish children participated. For Americans, the interactive group mentally rotated significantly more accurately and faster than the observational group. For Turks, no significant differences occurred between the interactive and observational groups. 100% of Americans had computers at home, but only 1/4 of the Turkish did. Computer ownership and frequency of computer game play were significant environmental differences, which appear to mediate the priming effect.


Smith, G. & Olkun, S. (2004). How Interactivity Works: priming of mental rotation. In L. Cantoni & C. McLoughlin (Eds.), Proceedings of ED-MEDIA 2004--World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications (pp. 4293-4302). Lugano, Switzerland: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved March 4, 2021 from .



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