Spatial ability and mathematics Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/q524jr68s

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  • Understanding mathematics and teaching mathematics involve numerous factors, one of which may be an individual's spatial ability. This paper examines research conducted on the relationship between spatial abilities and mathematics, gender differences in the area of spatial ability, the types of experiences that may affect one's spatial ability, and issues surrounding the teaching of spatial skills. Researchers have found that spatial ability does relate to mathematics and males tend to have greater spatial ability than females. Instruction has also been shown to be successful in helping individuals learn spatial skills. This paper also reports the results of a study that examined the differences in spatial ability among 98 participants (males, females, faculty, and students in the sciences and non-sciences) at a Pacific Northwest university. Although not all the results were statistically significant, they tend to agree with earlier studies that found gender advantages in spatial abilities favoring males over females. They also provide evidence of the existence of greater spatial abilities among participants who are engaged in scientific rather than non-scientific pursuits. The participants in this study also reported experiences that they believed influenced their success or failure in tasks requiring spatial ability. Such experiences were success in math and art classes, computer modeling, drafting, puzzles/games, Legos, construction, woodworking, and playing with blocks as a child. Participants also stated their belief that spatial ability related to success or lack of success in mathematics. Over half of the students felt that spatial ability would help in a math class. This study reveals that spatial ability does differ in individuals; that there exist experiences that individuals feel are important for developing spatial ability; and that spatial ability relates to mathematics. This information can be beneficial for both teachers and researchers.
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