Thinking About Spatial Thinking: New Typology, New Assessments

Conference paper

Abstract

Our world is a world that exists in space, and a world without space is literally inconceivable. Given this basic truth, it is clear that living in the world requires spatial functioning of some kind. Being creative in this world, and designing new tools and new habitats, probably requires even higher levels of spatial functioning. And people vary in their levels of spatial ability. What do these facts mean for the field of design? There are certain obvious practical questions. For example, should design schools accept only applicants who test high in spatial ability, following the lead of dental schools, which assess spatial thought on the Dental Admissions Test or with practical exercises in assignments such as tooth modeling? Or should design schools strive to enhance the spatial ability of anyone with the desire to do creative design, following the lead of selection committees for surgical residencies, which do not assess spatial ability in any way? The latter course is arguably supported by evidence (to be discussed later) showing that spatial skill is malleable. As another example of a practical question for design, consider what designers should or could know about the potential users of a product. What kinds and levels of spatial abilities should they assume that users will have? How would they be able to predict when a new tool will be too hard to master for many users, or when a building design will result in an environment in which many people easily get lost?

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Temple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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