Spatial Cognition: Key to STEM Success

  • Myint Swe KhineEmail author


The capacity to perceive the visual images accurately, construct mental representations and imaginary of visual information, understand and manipulate the spatial relations among objects have been considered as spatial ability, a powerful indicator of personal quality and individual differences. Past and present studies reveal the significant correlations between spatial ability and success in science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses and to some extent, gender. Some researchers suggest that spatial ability is malleable and can be improved with interventions, enrichment and training activities. There is currently a renewed interest in visual and spatial reasoning skills to identify the talented students and encourage them to pursue the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related careers and function well in techno-centric world.


Mental Rotation Spatial Ability Spatial Visualization Spatial Skill Spatial Thinking 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Cheng, Y. L., & Mix, K. S. (2014). Spatial training improves children’s mathematics ability. Journal of Cognition and Development, 15(1), 2–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Hegarty, M. (2014). Spatial thinking in undergraduate science education. Spatial Cognition and Computation, 14(2), 142–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Hinze, S. R., Williamson, V. M., Shultz, M. J., Williamson, K. C., Deslongchamps, G., & Rapp, D. N. (2013). When do spatial abilities support student comprehension of STEM visualizations? Cognitive Processing, 14(2), 129–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Kell, H. J., & Lubinski, D. (2013). Spatial ability: A neglected talent in educational and occupational settings. Roeper Review, 35(4), 219–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Sorby, S., Casey, B., Veurink, N., & Dulaney, A. (2013). The role of spatial training in improving spatial and calculus performance in engineering students. Learning and Individual Differences, 26, 20–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Stieff, M., & Uttal, D. (2015). How much can spatial training improve STEM achievement? Educational Psychology Review, 27(4), 607–615.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Taylor, H. A., & Hutton, A. (2013). Think3d!: Training spatial thinking fundamental to STEM education. Cognition and Instruction, 31(4), 434–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Uttal, D. H., & Cohen, C. A. (2012). Spatial thinking and STEM education: When, why and how. Psychology of Learning and Motivation, 57(2), 147–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Uttal, D. H., Meadow, N. G., Tipton, E., Hand, L. L., Alden, A. R., Warren, C., & Newcombe, N. S. (2013). The malleability of spatial skills: A meta-analysis of training studies. Psychological Bulletin, 139(2), 352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Emirates College for Advanced EducationAbu DhabiUnited Arab Emirates
  2. 2.Curtin UniversityPerthAustralia

Personalised recommendations