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date: 21 November 2017

Abstract and Keywords

Having high levels of spatial skills strongly predicts attainment in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields (Shea, Lubinski, & Benbow, 2001; Wai, Lubinski, & Benbow, 2009). The focus of this chapter is on two issues: (a) the effect of training and practice on spatial skills and (b) the cognitive mechanisms that support training-related improvement. We discuss a recently conducted meta-analysis that measures the beneficial effects of practice on spatial ability. On average, training led to an improvement of almost one-half standard deviation. Moreover, in some cases the training-related improvements were durable and transferred to other spatial tasks. Research on the effects of training on one well-known spatial task, mental rotation, has led to specific accounts of the influence of practice and training. Finally, we review the effects of video games on spatial skills and their potential impact on spatial cognition. The ability to improve people’s spatial ability provides an avenue to increase participation in mathematics, science, and engineering.

Keywords: spatial skills, practice, STEM, transfer, sex differences

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