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Educating Spatial Intelligence

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  1. Educating Spatial Intelligence Nora S. Newcombe Temple University Talk at National Geographic Society November 2008

  2. Standing on the Shoulders of Giants, Preaching to the Converted Penn State spatial discussion group UC-Santa Barbara NCGIA and Varenius Projects Learning to Think Spatially

  3. Nevertheless, Separated Communities Lead to Differences

  4. Four Arguments • Spatial intelligence and learning are important • Spatial intelligence and learning can be improved • There are sex-linked and SES-linked differences in spatial intelligence--addressing these differences is important for social equity • Spatial intelligence and learning are critically under-studied • Specific educational techniques to foster spatial intelligence are within our grasp

  5. Four Arguments • Spatial intelligence and learning are important • Spatial intelligence and learning can be improved • There are sex-linked and SES-linked differences in spatial intelligence--addressing these differences is important for social equity • Spatial intelligence and learning are critically under-studied • Specific educational techniques to foster spatial intelligence are within our grasp

  6. Spatial Intelligence and Learning Are Important In an evolutionary context, spatial adaptation is vital In modern life, spatial thinking is used both in everyday tasks and in reasoning and communication In scientific thought and communication, spatial skills are particularly central

  7. Basic Adaptation • Way Finding • Tool Making

  8. Everyday Life

  9. Reasoning and Communication • Graphs and diagrams • Inference • Analogy • Metaphor

  10. Performance in STEM Disciplines • Physics • Chemistry • Biology • Engineering • Mathematics • Geoscience

  11. Predicting B.A. Degree AreasFromShea, Lubinski & Benbow (2001)

  12. What We Still Need • Do improvements in spatial skill translate into greater STEM interest and ability? • How important are any such effects? • How do such effects compare with other influences, e.g., work-family conflicts? • Do such effects reduce sex- and SES-based differences in STEM participation? • Does earlyspatial skill relate to earlySTEM learning?

  13. Four Arguments • Spatial intelligence and learning are important • Spatial intelligence and learning can be improved • There are sex-linked and SES-linked differences in spatial intelligence--addressing these differences is important for social equity • Spatial intelligence and learning are critically under-studied • Specific educational techniques to foster spatial intelligence are within our grasp

  14. Especially Important For Girls Frequency Spatial Transformation Score Levine, Huttenlocher, Taylor & Langrock (1999)

  15. Social Class Effects and the Male Advantage (Levine, Vasilyeva, Lourenco, Newcombe & Huttenlocher, Psychological Science, 2005) Mental Rotation Aerial Maps

  16. Not Just Because of Difficulty Level(Levine, Vasilyeva, Lourenco, Newcombe & Huttenlocher, Psychological Science, 2005)

  17. Some Prior Reasons To Believe in Malleability • Effects of practice and training • Baenninger & Newcombe (1989) • Effects of simple instructions • Ward, Newcombe & Overton (1986) • School effects • Huttenlocher, Levine & Vevea (1998)

  18. New Data on Malleability • New meta-analysis supports large training effects, as well as durability and transfer • Liu, Uttal, Marulis, Lewis, Warren, & Newcombe, under review • David Uttal will present this later on • Two specific recent studies on improvement that is durableand transferable • Terlecki, Newcombe & Little (Applied Cognitive Psychology, 2008) • Wright, Thompson, Ganis, Newcombe & Kosslyn (Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 2008)

  19. Five Questions about Improvement in Mental Rotation Skills • What is the shape of long-term growth trajectories? • Does videogame training have effects exceeding simple practice? • Do growth trajectories differ for men and women, and for individuals of higher or lower spatial experience? • Are practice and training effects durable? • Do practice and training transfer, and is transfer durable?

  20. Training • One hour per week for a semester • Tetris or Solitaire • Weekly MRT administration

  21. Time Course of ImprovementTerlecki, Newcombe & Little, 2008

  22. Time Course of ImprovementTerlecki, Newcombe & Little, 2008

  23. Improvement is DurableTerlecki, Newcombe & Little, 2008

  24. Transfer is Durable and Tetris Augments TransferTerlecki, Newcombe & Little, 2008

  25. Five New Aims • Training intensive enough to produce large gains but shorter than a semester • Novel stimuli: to assess stimulus-specific versus general effects • Symmetric look at transfer: A to B and also B to A • Non-spatial task to make sure transfer is spatially-specific • Componential analysis: intercept versus slope effects

  26. Three Tasks

  27. Training • 21 consecutive days, about 20 minutes per day • Either MRT or Paper Folding

  28. Transfer Across Spatial TasksWright, Thompson, Ganis, Newcombe & Kosslyn, Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 2008

  29. Transfer Across Spatial TasksWright, Thompson, Ganis, Newcombe & Kosslyn, Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 2008

  30. Goals for New Training Studies • Delineate mechanisms of improvement and possible additivity of methods • Allowing for tailored recommendations about sequencing and aptitude-treatment interactions • Tim Shipley will present progress report on an adult study of this kind • How should we best enhance spatial learning in children? • Methods that are more play, less work • Gesture, puzzle play, paper folding, block play • Training in different SES groups

  31. More Goals • What are the neural correlates of improvements? • Do they provide clues as to mechanism? • How do we improve way finding skills? • Is there far transfer from visualization to way finding and vice versa? • (Again) What are the implications of improvements for STEM learning? • Different at various ages? • Different for different disciplines or sub-areas?

  32. Four Arguments • Spatial intelligence and learning are important • Spatial intelligence and learning can be improved • There are sex-linked and SES-linked differences in spatial intelligence--addressing these differences is important for social equity • Spatial intelligence and learning are critically under-studied • Specific educational techniques to foster spatial intelligence are within our grasp

  33. Spatial Framework • Two spatial frames • Object (internal relations that define shape) • Scene (external relations that define relations among objects) • Two temporal properties • Static (unchanging relations) • Dynamic (changing relations)

  34. The 2 by 2 Framework Object Scene Static Dynamic

  35. One Application of the Framework: Language Object Scene Static Noun Preposition Manner Verb Dynamic Path Verb

  36. The Third Dimension:Scale • Different processes for different scales (particularly peri-personal space) • Object versus scene at many scales

  37. Domain General Processes • There are many such processes and most of them are relevant to spatial learning • In SILC, we have been concentrating on: • Analogy • Gesture • Working memory • Perceptual learning • In addition, specific skills (e.g., understanding diagrams) involves non-spatial content mastery (e.g., of diagrammatic conventions)

  38. Symbolic Representation • Language • Brings up classic “language and thought” issues • Spatial representations • Maps • Graphs • Diagrams

  39. Static Scene Representations:Hierarchical Coding Model • Categorical or qualitative • Fine-grained or coordinate or metric • Bayesian combination • Leads to • Method to diagnose categories • Work on natural scenes and geoscience expertise • Way to think about development • Way to think about neural bases of spatial coding • Anjan Chatterjee willtalk about this later

  40. Dynamic Representations:Mental Transformations May Be Formally But Not Psychologically Equivalent • Rotate object (or array) vs move viewer

  41. Dynamic Scene Representations • Navigation can be guided by • Egocentric coding • Allocentric coding • Landmarks/place learning • Gradients such as slope • Daniele Nardi will present work on this later • Most work of this kind is on groups or normative development—individual differences?

  42. Morris Water Maze

  43. Room Cue 3 Room Cue 1 Room Cue 2 Morris Water Maze

  44. The Emergence of Place Learning • Considerable evidence, from a wide variety of techniques, that place learning depends on hippocampus • Animal studies: e.g., Morris, Garrud, Rawlins, & O’Keefe (1982) • Human studies: e.g., Holdstock et al. (2000) • Place learning seems to emerge between 18 and 24 months of age

  45. New Research Questions • Are there individual differences in early place learning abilities? • Do language and spatial representations develop independently? • What is the relationship between the developing brain and emergent behavior?

  46. Balcomb & Newcombe • Subjects • Children aged 16-24 months • Materials • 10’ diameter carpeted circle divided into quadrants • Battery operated puzzle • Task • Locate puzzle hidden under carpet • Remember puzzle location

  47. Procedures • Familiarization • Learning • 4 trials to learn the puzzle’s location • Different points of entry • Test • Same as learning trials • No puzzle • Control • Control for motivation & walking speed • Puzzle clearly visible

  48. Spatial Results

  49. Space and Language Intercorrelations between language and spatial searches