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Training Can Improve Spatial Skills

Training Can Improve Spatial Skills New research determines that spatial skills critical for science, technology, engineering and mathematics can be taught.

The ability to improve spatial skills and whether such improvement lasts or transfers to new tasks has been debatable in the scientific community. In the new study, researchers reviewed and aggregated 217 published studies on educational interventions to improve spatial thinking.

Experts say the research effort is the first comprehensive analysis of credible studies on such interventions.

Spatial skills include the aptitude to do tasks such as putting together puzzles.

In the study, David Uttal and fellow researchers at Northwestern University with Nora Newcombe, professor of psychology at Temple reviewed the studies that assessed the ability to improve spatial thinking.

“There are limitations involved with looking at individual studies one by one. What we found when we brought together this large body of literature on training effects and analyzed it was a very powerful message, said Newcombe.

“People of all ages can improve at all types of spatial skills through training, period.”

Investigators believe the results from this new meta-analysis affirm that spatial skills can be improved.

The researchers found that spatial skills are indeed malleable and that spatial training transfers to other fields.

“Our findings have significant real world implications by showing that training can have an impact on a technological workforce. With the right training more high school students will be able to consider engineering and other scientific fields as a career option,” said Newcombe.

One example of the type of training that can increase spatial abilities is having physics students use three-dimensional representations.

Video game playing also increases spatial skills. “Perhaps the most important finding from this meta-analysis is that several different forms of training can be highly successful,” the authors say.

“Our hope is that our findings on how to train spatial skills will ultimately lead to highly effective ways to improve STEM performance,” said Uttal, the lead author on the study.

In the review, researchers discovered gender and age are not impediments to learning or improving spatial skills and that even a small amount of training can improve spatial reasoning and have long-lasting impact.

The study is published in Psychological Bulletin.

Source: Temple University

Training Can Improve Spatial Skills

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Training Can Improve Spatial Skills. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 22, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2012/07/26/training-can-improve-spatial-skills/42262.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.