Spatial skills are a strong predictor of students’ science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) achievement. The present study uses a quasi-experimental design to address three research objectives focusing on the development of spatial skills; specifically, mental rotation. This study’s first research objective examines if learning to solve the Rubik’s Cube improves eighth-grade students’ two- and three-dimensional mental rotation performance. The second objective explores if there are differences between male students’ and female students’ mental rotation performance. Finally, the Need for Cognition Scale is utilized to determine whether motivation, enjoyment, and effort in cognitive endeavors can predict the change in students’ mental rotation performance from pretest to posttest. This study’s findings show that eighth-grade students’ who participated in the Rubik’s Cube training interventions significantly improved on measures of two- and three-dimensional mental rotation. Students’ scores on the Need for Cognition Scale predicted the degree to which their two-dimensional mental rotation skills improved. This study’s results suggest that students’ motivation for critical thinking and reasoning predicts their capacity to learn from spatial training experiences. Overall, these findings contribute to the literature that spatial skills are malleable.
University of Minnesota M.A. thesis. May 2020. Major: Educational Psychology. Advisor: Keisha Varma. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 60 pagess.
Supporting Middle School Students’ Spatial Skills Through Rubik’S Cube Play.
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