WIT Press

Give The Girls A Chance: Should Spatial Skills Training Be Incorporated Into The Curriculum?


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S. Jones & G. Burnett


Recently, tests for spatial reasoning skills were introduced in the UK for young children. However, effort is still directed at improving reading and mathematics, with no defined inclusion of spatial skills training in the curriculum. This is a cause for concern given that spatial skills are important for a range of ICT-related activities—for example, navigating Web sites. Furthermore, such abilities have implications for future subject and career choices. There are well-documented individual differences in spatial skills, with gender being one of the most studied. The current study aimed to determine if short-term training with online 2-D or 3-D spatial puzzles resulted in a greater increase in spatial skills compared to a control group trained with word puzzles. The study, involving 168 children between the ages of 6 and 11 years, investigated the impact of the dimensionality of puzzles, as well as gender, age and starting spatial score. Additionally, the children were questioned on the length of time they spent on computers, and their preferred computer-related pastimes. The results showed a trend for higher spatial scores after training with spatial puzzles compared to the control group, although these results did not reach statistical significance. Younger children demonstrated a greater increase than older children, this age trend being greater amongst the females. Those with lower starting spatial scores showed a significantly greater increase in spatial scores after training. As expected, males reported playing computer games more frequently than females. Furthermore, there was evidence that children with higher spatial scores were actively choosing to play computer games more than other ICT pastimes such as emailing. Based on these findings, a provisional recommendation is made that spatial skills training should be incorporated into the curriculum. Keywords: spatial skills, gender differences, children, education.


spatial skills, gender differences, children, education.