2D maps with contour lines can be difficult for students to visualize in three-dimensions to interpret relief. Despite this challenge, teaching based on 2D contour lines is still used, which could generate frustration/motivation problems among students. Recently, strategies based on 3D technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR) have proven to be motivating for students. Has the time come for a paradigm shift in the teaching of land interpretation/representation? The present paper shows the results of an experiment in which 41 engineering students of the subject Cartography performed an activity with 2D contour lines. The impact on students’ motivation was compared with AR. In addition, data about efficiency, effectiveness and user satisfaction were assessed. Results showed that traditional 2D contour line activities were less motivating for students, compared to AR. However, students perceived that doing 2D exercises made them more competent than with AR, although they reported that the 2D exercises required more effort. In terms of participant’s spatial reasoning acquisition, 2D strategies offered results similar to AR. Overall, these results suggest that 2D teaching methodologies are still effective and can be complemented by the use of innovative 3D visualization technologies.
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