Spatial Cognition in STEM Learning (Symposium at the Spatial Cognition Conference))

Günter Maresch, Sheryl Sorby, Gavin Duffy

Publikation: KonferenzbeitragAbstract


In the 1960s, psychologists began to examine the link between spatial cognition and success in a variety of careers and concluded that these skills are important for scientists, engineers, technologists, and mathematicians, or what we now refer to as STEM. Numerous studies since then have shown there is a strong link between well-developed spatial skills and success in STEM fields. For most STEM fields, the ability to quickly mentally rotate 3-D objects seems to be especially important. Unfortunately, of all the cognitive skills, speeded 3-D rotation abilities exhibit robust gender differences, favoring males and weak spatial cognitive skills could be a factor in the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields. Fortunately, numerous studies have also shown that spatial skills are highly malleable, even into adulthood meaning that students, especially women, can develop these vital skills for STEM success. The specific mechanisms through which spatial skills contribute to STEM success are not known at this time. Some have demonstrated that skill in spatial thinking is required for non-routine problem-solving. Others have found that there is a link between spatial skills and creativity and innovation. Numerous studies have shown the link between spatial and mathematical skills. Since mathematics is the foundation of all STEM fields, high spatial ability could result in success in mathematics, which, in turn, leads to success in a person’s chosen STEM field.
The purpose of this symposium is to bring together those who are interested in exploring the relationship between spatial cognition and specific aspects of STEM learning. This includes (i) studies that have measured the relationship between different factors of spatial ability and various indicators of success in STEM learning, (ii) intervention studies that have tested spatial ability training and measured its impact on spatial ability development and transfer to STEM learning tasks and (iii) intervention studies in which STEM learning and teaching activities have been adapted to become more spatial or to highlight the spatial aspects so those with low levels of spatial ability are scaffolded to a greater extent when learning STEM concepts. How these issues are manifest in all levels of STEM education, from primary school through to higher education, are included in this symposium. Issues of gender and diversity in the spatial ability – STEM learning relationship are also addressed including how girls and boys respond to interventions to improve spatial ability.
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 2020

Systematik der Wissenschaftszweige 2012

  • 101 Mathematik


  • Spatial Skills
  • Spatial Ability
  • Spatial Thinking
  • Geometry
  • CAD