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The developmental relations between spatial cognition and mathematics in primary school children

Gilligan, KA; Hodgkiss, A; Thomas, MSC; Farran, EK; (2019) The developmental relations between spatial cognition and mathematics in primary school children. Developmental Science , Article e12786. 10.1111/desc.12786. (In press).

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Abstract

Spatial thinking is an important predictor of mathematics. However, existing data do not determine whether all spatial sub-domains are equally important for mathematics outcomes nor whether mathematics-spatial associations vary through development. This study addresses these questions by exploring the developmental relations between mathematics and spatial skills in children aged 6 -10 years (N = 155). We extend previous findings by assessing and comparing performance across Uttal et al.'s (2013), four spatial sub-domains. Overall spatial skills explained 5-14% of the variation across three mathematics performance measures (standardised mathematics skills, approximate number sense and number line estimation skills), beyond other known predictors of mathematics including vocabulary and gender. Spatial scaling (extrinsic-static sub-domain) was a significant predictor of all mathematics outcomes, across all ages, highlighting its importance for mathematics in middle childhood. Other spatial sub-domains were differentially associated with mathematics in a task and age dependent manner. Mental rotation (intrinsic-dynamic skills) was a significant predictor of mathematics at 6 and 7 years only which suggests that at approximately 8 years of age there is a transition period regarding the spatial skills that are important for mathematics. Taken together, the results support the investigation of spatial training, particularly targeting spatial scaling, as a means of improving both spatial and mathematical thinking. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Type: Article
Title: The developmental relations between spatial cognition and mathematics in primary school children
Location: England
DOI: 10.1111/desc.12786
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/desc.12786
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Development, Mathematics, Spatial Cognition
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Psychology and Human Development
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10065954
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