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The Influence of Spatial Visualization Training on Students’ Spatial Reasoning and Mathematics Performance

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Abstract

Over three decades of research has shown that spatial reasoning and mathematics performance are highly correlated. Spatial visualization, in particular, has been found to predict mathematics performance in primary and middle school children. This research sought to determine the effectiveness of a spatial visualization intervention program on increasing student spatial reasoning and mathematics performance. Participants were 327 students from 17 classrooms across ten schools with nine experimental and eight control classes. The intervention program was delivered over a three-week period by classroom teachers, while the control classes received standard mathematics instruction. When compared to the control group, participants in the intervention group improved significantly on their spatial reasoning performance, and specifically on spatial visualization and spatial orientation. The intervention group also significantly improved on their mathematics test performance, with those in the intervention group outperforming their control group peers on geometry and word problems but not on mathematics questions requiring the decoding of graphics (non-geometry graphics tasks). These results add to evidence that a spatial reasoning enrichment program implemented by teachers in their own classrooms can enhance both spatial reasoning and mathematics performance. Moreover, the study provides new insights about the aspects of mathematics performance that are most affected by spatial visualization training.

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Lowrie, T., Logan, T., & Hegarty, M. (2019). The Influence of Spatial Visualization Training on Students’ Spatial Reasoning and Mathematics Performance. Journal of Cognition and Development, 20(5), 729–751. https://doi.org/10.1080/15248372.2019.1653298

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