Importance of Developing Spatial Skills
for Success in CS
Laura Reasoner Jones
Well-developed spatial skills lead to success in
Engineering and Technology
Computer Science
Computer-Aided Design
Geospatial technologies
And much more
Because they represent and manipulate
information in problem-solving.
Gender Differences in Spatial Skills
~100 years of research finds significant gender
differences favoring males in 3-D spatial skills
• Differences are particularly robust in mental
rotation and spatial perception (Linn and Peterson, 1985)
• Experiences as youth seem to explain some of the
differences (Baenninger and Newcombe, 1995, Voyer, Nolan, and
Voyer, 2000, and Terlecki and Newcombe, 2005)
• Training seem to improve female performance to
some degree (Baartmans and Sorby, 1996)
Components of Spatial Thinking
• Mental Rotation—rotate two and threedimensional figures
• Spatial Perception—determine relationships
with respect to the orientation of her/his body
• Spatial Visualization—multi-step manipulations
of objects and parts both individually and
How can you improve
measurable spatial skills?
Teach students to:
Analyze the components of the task
Rotate the item into congruence
Compare objects
Important Experiences for the Development of
Spatial Skills
Play with construction toys/Legos
Shop, drafting, and mechanics classes
3-D computer games
Certain sports
Mathematics skills
Repeated practice with general spatial skills
Importance for Computer Science
Spatial ability allows you to:
• Navigate in virtual space
• Develop mental models and maps
• Move between files and functions more easily
• Navigate through text/code more easily
• Figure out where to go next
• 3-D Printing…….
How can you improve functional
spatial skills?
• Practice
• Experience
• Build confidence
Tests for Spatial Abilities:
• Mental Cutting Test
• Mental Rotation Test (Vandenberg and Kuse, 1978)
Purdue Spatial Visualization Test: Rotations
Project Talent Study (APA, 2009)
What you can do
Make thinking visible—use the Think-Aloud technique
Teach mental rotation, 2-D and 3-D drawing (Sorby)
Use E3 Materials
(Everyday Examples in Engineering)
Sorby’s Engineering Graphics
Make 2D to 3D and 3D to 2D a part of
the classroom life
Logic groups
Modeling as part of the programming
Promote and use free CAD software
• Encourage exploration
• Allow experimentation & failure
Contact information:
Laura Reasoner Jones
[email protected]

similar documents