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Why Spatial is Special in Education, Learning, and Everyday Activities

This thematic series, published in Cognitive Research: Principles and Implicationsfocuses on spatial ability and spatial thinking. 

People's thinking about, with, and in space has been extensively studied in the literatures of psychology, education, and other related fields. In the context of education, researchers have shown that spatial ability correlates significantly, over and above mathematical and verbal ability, with students' interest in STEM disciplines, and affects their eventual occupational choices. 

The existence of large individual differences in the extent, accuracy, and flexibility of internal representations of our spatial environments is now stimulating research. The pervasive availability of geospatial information raises concern about negative effects on people’s geospatial literacy and awareness. This special issue aims to bring together articles on questions such as: What is spatial thinking? Is it related to spatial ability and other abilities? To academic achievements in different fields? Can it be taught and trained? Brought into the classroom?

Edited by: 

  • Toru Ishikawa
  • Nora Newcombe

This collection of articles has not been sponsored and articles have undergone the journal’s standard peer-review process. The Guest Editors declare no competing interests.

  1. Spatial thinking skills are strongly correlated with achievement in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields and emerging research suggests that interventions aimed at building students’...

    Authors: Kristin M. Gagnier and Kelly R. Fisher

    Citation: Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 2020 5:29

    Content type: Original article

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  2. Characteristics of both teachers and learners influence mathematical learning. For example, when teachers use hand gestures to support instruction, students learn more than others who learn the same concept wi...

    Authors: Mary Aldugom, Kimberly Fenn and Susan Wagner Cook

    Citation: Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 2020 5:27

    Content type: Original article

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  3. This study investigated the impact of handedness on a common spatial abilities task, the mental rotation task (MRT). The influence of a right-handed world was contrasted with people’s embodied experience with ...

    Authors: You Cheng, Mary Hegarty and Elizabeth R. Chrastil

    Citation: Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 2020 5:25

    Content type: Original article

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  4. Spatial reasoning is a critical skill in many everyday tasks and in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines. The current study examined how training on mental rotation (a spatial reasonin...

    Authors: Katherine C. Moen, Melissa R. Beck, Stephanie M. Saltzmann, Tovah M. Cowan, Lauryn M. Burleigh, Leslie G. Butler, Jagannathan Ramanujam, Alex S. Cohen and Steven G. Greening

    Citation: Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 2020 5:20

    Content type: Original article

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  5. Spatial skills are an important component of success in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. A majority of what we know about spatial skills today is a result of more than 100 years of res...

    Authors: Kinnari Atit, David H. Uttal and Mike Stieff

    Citation: Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 2020 5:19

    Content type: Review article

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  6. Considering how spatial thinking connects to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) outcomes, recent studies have evaluated how spatial interventions impact elementary students’ math learning....

    Authors: Heather Burte, Aaron L. Gardony, Allyson Hutton and Holly A. Taylor

    Citation: Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 2020 5:17

    Content type: Original article

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  7. Investigating the relationship between the human body and its spatial environment is a critical component in understanding the process of acquiring spatial knowledge. However, few empirical evaluations have lo...

    Authors: Jiayan Zhao, Mark Simpson, Jan Oliver Wallgrün, Pejman Sajjadi and Alexander Klippel

    Citation: Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 2020 5:14

    Content type: Original article

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  8. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards inspectors are faced with the difficult task of learning the layout of complex nuclear facilities while being escorted through the facilities. This study ad...

    Authors: Mallory C. Stites, Laura E. Matzen and Zoe N. Gastelum

    Citation: Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 2020 5:13

    Content type: Original article

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  9. Anyone who has ever found themselves lost while driving in an unfamiliar neighborhood or forgotten where they parked their car can appreciate the importance of being able to navigate their environment. Navigat...

    Authors: Vanessa Vieites, Shannon M. Pruden and Bethany C. Reeb-Sutherland

    Citation: Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 2020 5:12

    Content type: Original article

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  10. Mental rotation (MR) is the ability to transform a mental representation of an object so as to accurately predict how the object would look from a different angle (Sci 171:701–703, 1971), and it is involved in...

    Authors: Scott P. Johnson and David S. Moore

    Citation: Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 2020 5:10

    Content type: Review article

    Published on: