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LEARNING TO THINK SPATIALLY: WHAT DO STUDENTS ‘SEE’ IN NUMERACY TEST ITEMS?

  • Carmel M. DiezmannEmail author
  • Tom Lowrie
Article

Abstract

Learning to think spatially in mathematics involves developing proficiency with graphics. This paper reports on 2 investigations of spatial thinking and graphics. The first investigation explored the importance of graphics as 1 of 3 communication systems (i.e. text, symbols, graphics) used to provide information in numeracy test items. The results showed that graphics were embedded in at least 50 % of test items across 3 year levels. The second investigation examined 11 – 12-year-olds’ performance on 2 mathematical tasks which required substantial interpretation of graphics and spatial thinking. The outcomes revealed that many students lacked proficiency in the basic spatial skills of visual memory and spatial perception and the more advanced skills of spatial orientation and spatial visualisation. This paper concludes with a reaffirmation of the importance of spatial thinking in mathematics and proposes ways to capitalize on graphics in learning to think spatially.

KEY WORDS

information graphics mathematics items numeracy tests pedagogy spatial perception spatial thinking 

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Copyright information

© National Science Council, Taiwan 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Queensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Charles Sturt UniversityWagga WaggaAustralia

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