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    Spatial cognition and science achievement: The contribution of intrinsic and extrinsic spatial skills from 7 to 11 years

    Hodgkiss, A. and Gilligan, K. and Tolmie, A.K. and Thomas, Michael S.C. and Farran, E.K. (2018) Spatial cognition and science achievement: The contribution of intrinsic and extrinsic spatial skills from 7 to 11 years. British Journal of Educational Psychology 88 (4), pp. 675-697. ISSN 0007-0998.

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    Background. Prior longitudinal and correlational research with adults and adolescents indicates that spatial ability is a predictor of science learning and achievement. However, there is little research to date with primary-school aged children that addresses this relationship. Understanding this association has the potential to inform curriculum design and support the development of early interventions. Aims. The current study examined the relationship between primary-school children’s spatial skills and their science achievement. Method. Children aged 7-11 years (N=123) completed a battery of five spatial tasks, based on a model of spatial ability in which skills fall along two dimensions: intrinsic-extrinsic; static-dynamic. Participants also completed a curriculum-based science assessment. Results. Controlling for verbal ability and age, mental folding (intrinsic- dynamic spatial ability) and spatial scaling (extrinsic-static spatial ability) each emerged as unique predictors of overall science scores, with mental folding a stronger predictor than spatial scaling. These spatial skills combined accounted for 8% of the variance in science scores. When considered by scientific discipline, mental folding uniquely predicted both physics and biology scores, and spatial scaling accounted for additional variance in biology and variance in chemistry scores. The children’s embedded figures task (intrinsic-static spatial ability) only accounted for variance in chemistry scores. The patterns of association were consistent across the age range. Conclusion. Spatial skills, particularly mental folding, spatial scaling and dis-embedding, are predictive of 7-11 year olds’ science achievement. These skills make a similar contribution to performance for each age group.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Educational Neuroscience, Centre for
    Depositing User: Michael Thomas
    Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2018 11:35
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:39


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