How Much Can Spatial Training Improve STEM Achievement?
- 1.4k Downloads
Spatial training has been indicated as a possible solution for improving Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) achievement and degree attainment. Advocates for this approach have noted that the correlation between spatial ability and several measures of STEM achievement suggests that spatial training should focus on improving students’ spatial ability. Although spatial ability can be improved with targeted training, few studies have examined specifically the relation between spatial training and STEM achievement. In this brief report, we review the evidence to date for the effectiveness of spatial training. We argue that spatial training offers one of the many promising avenues for increasing student success in STEM fields, but research studies that show such training causally improve retention, achievement, and degree attainment remain outstanding.
KeywordsSpatial ability STEM education
We gratefully acknowledge the input of Tim Shipley, Nora Newcombe, and Kristin Gagnier on our ideas for this report.
- Chittleborough, G., & Treagust, D. F. (2007). The modelling ability of non-major chemistry students and their understanding of the sub-microscopic level. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 8(3), 274–292.Google Scholar
- Knapp, A. (2011). Why schools don’t value spatial reasoning. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2011/12/27/why-dont-schools-value-spatial-reasoning.
- National Center for Educational Statistics (2012). The nation’s report card: Science 2011 (NCES 2012–465). Washington, D.C.: Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.Google Scholar
- National Research Council. (2006). Learning to think spatially. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
- National Science Foundation. (2009). Women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in science and engineering. Arlington: National Science Foundation.Google Scholar
- Park, G., Lubinski, D. L., & Benbow, C. P. (2010). Recognizing spatial intelligence. Scientific American. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/recognizing-spatial-intel/. Accessed 19 Nov 2014.
- Rudmann, D. (2002). Solving astronomy problems can be limited by intuited knowledge, spatial ability, or both. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. New Orleans, LA.Google Scholar
- Small, M. Y., & Morton, M. E. (1983). Spatial visualization training improves performance in organic chemistry. Journal of College Science Teaching, 13(1), 41–43.Google Scholar
- Smith, M. K., & Knight, J. K. (2012). Using the genetics concept assessment to document presistent conceptual difficulties in undergraduate genetics courses. Genetics, 191(1), 21–32.Google Scholar
- Sorby, S. A. (2011). Developing spatial thinking. Independence: Cengage.Google Scholar