Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


This article presents the results of a study on the use of 3-D printed models in a science classroom for students with visual impairments and examines whether the use of these models impacts student conceptual understanding and misconceptions related to geosciences concepts, specifically plate tectonics.

Data were collected one week prior to instruction, one week after instruction and throughout the 3-week instructional period. Results showed that students with visual impairments held many of the same misconceptions about plate tectonics as students who are typically sighted. All students in this study had fewer misconceptions after the instructional period than they held before instruction began; however, both the 3D group and the TG group continued to hold approximately equal numbers of misconceptions. The adaptations and hands-on experiences in this 3-week curriculum proved effective for students with visual impairments; helping them understand the unifying theory of plate tectonics.

Some unique misconceptions held by the students with visual impairments in this research study include plates floating on the ocean, earthquakes moving with the plates, and volcanoes working together with the plates to cause earthquakes. There was a difference between students who had low vision and those with light perception only. The study helps to shed light on the use of 3-D printed models in the science classroom and their effectiveness at helping students with visual impairments learn important geoscience concepts.