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Space for Mathematics: Spatial cognition as a contributor to the development of mathematics skills in children

Gilligan, Katie; (2019) Space for Mathematics: Spatial cognition as a contributor to the development of mathematics skills in children. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

There is evidence to suggest that associations exist between spatial skills and mathematics in pre-school and adult populations. However, relatively few studies explore these associations in primary school aged children. The experimental studies presented in this thesis investigated the developmental relations between spatial and mathematical skills in children aged 5 to 10 years, including the transfer of spatial training gains to mathematics. Associations between spatial thinking and mathematics were observed longitudinally and cross-sectionally. Secondary data analysis of the Millennium Cohort Study, a longitudinal study of children in the United Kingdom, indicated that spatial performance at 5 years was a significant longitudinal predictor of mathematics at 7 years. Spatial skills explained 15% of the variation in mathematics achievement at 7 years even after controlling for gender, socioeconomic status and language skills(N = 12099). Findings from a cross-sectional study of children aged 6 to 10 years found that spatial skills explained 7% to 13% of the variation across three mathematics performance measures (standardised mathematics, approximate number system, and number line estimation skills) (N = 155). Some relations reported between spatial and mathematical skills were subdomain specific. While spatial scaling was a significant predictor of all mathematics outcomes, disembedding was associated with standardised mathematics performance only. Certain spatial-mathematical relations were also sensitive to developmental age. Mental rotation had a greater influence on mathematics for younger compared to older children. These insights on the selectivity and developmental sensitivity of spatial-mathematical relations were used to design an intervention study, which targeted mental rotation and spatial scaling skills. In this study, spatial training led to gains in the spatial skill trained (near transfer), transfer of gains to un-trained spatial domains (intermediate transfer), and transfer of gains to mathematical domains (far transfer). It was concluded that spatial skills have a causal role in mathematics outcomes in childhood.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Space for Mathematics: Spatial cognition as a contributor to the development of mathematics skills in children
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms.
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/10072635
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