Preparing for STEM: Impact of spatial visualization training on middle school math performance

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Department of Engineering Fundamentals


The ability to visualize in three-dimensions has been shown to be critical to success in engineering and in mathematics. Unfortunately of all cognitive process, spatial visualization exhibits some of the most robust gender difference, favoring males. Poorly developed spatial skills among women and girls could be a hindrance as we strive to diversify engineering. A course for developing 3D spatial skills has been implemented at the university level with promising results. A spatial skills curriculum was implemented in 7th grade mathematics at a low-performing school in rural Colorado. Student outcomes on standardized mathematics tests, including the statewide assessment and a local diagnostic test for 9th grade math placement were examined for student participants as well as for a comparison group. The students who participated in the spatial skills training in 7th grade performed better on both the statewide mathematics assessment as well as on the local placement test for 9th grade mathematics. The improvements in mathematics performance were particularly strong for the girls in the study.

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Publisher's version of record: https://doi.org/10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.2018024516

Publication Title

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering