University of Surrey

Test tubes in the lab Research in the ATI Dance Research

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

Gilligan, Katie, Hodgkiss, Alex, Thomas, Michael S. C and Farran, Emily (2019) The developmental relations between spatial cognition and mathematics in primary school children Developmental Science, 22 (4), e12786. pp. 1-19.

[img] Text
Gilligan, Hodgkiss, Thomas & Farran, 2018.docx - Accepted version Manuscript

Download (1MB)


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.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Psychology
Authors :
Hodgkiss, Alex
Thomas, Michael S. C
Date : July 2019
Funders : Bloomsbury Scholarship, Economic and Social Research Council, National Centre for Curriculum and Assessment
DOI : 10.1111/desc.12786
Copyright Disclaimer : © 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Uncontrolled Keywords : Mathematics, Spatial Cognition, Development
Depositing User : Charlene King
Date Deposited : 06 Mar 2019 09:31
Last Modified : 19 Dec 2019 02:08

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

Information about this web site

© The University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7XH, United Kingdom.
+44 (0)1483 300800