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Construction play and cognitive skills associated with the development of mathematical abilities in 7-year-old children

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... The interrelation between object knowledge, object location, and structural organization may be why constructive activities have been connected with a number of spatial skills at older ages, including mental rotation (Brosnan, 1998), spatial visualization (Caldera, McCulp, O'Brien, Truglio, Alvarez, & Huston, 1999;Jirout & Newcombe, 2015), spatial transformation (Levine et al., 2011;Verdine et al., 2014), mathematics and visuospatial memory (Nath & Szucs, 2014;Wolfgang, Stannard, & Jones, 2003), and spatial language (Marcinowski & Campbell, 2017). Greater experience building structures and a better understanding of object relations could be one reason why greater ability for object construction predicts spatial skills later in development. ...
... Third, research should address what abilities object construction affects and how it affects the development of these abilities. Later in development, construction activities exhibit an apparent connection to spatial cognition (e.g., Brosnan, 1998;Caldera et al., 1999;Jirout & Newcombe, 2015;Levine et al., 2011;Nath & Szucs, 2014;Verdine et al., 2014), even as far as predicting middle and high school mathematics achievement (Wolfgang, Stannard, & Jones, 2003). However, these studies did not examine construction during infancy and toddlerhood, or how early skills might predict the development of spatial skills at preschool and older ages. ...
Article
Early in development, children explore and combine objects in increasingly complex ways. One manual skill, object construction, represents a major shift in how objects are explored relative to other objects. Despite recent connections with cognitive functioning such as spatial skills, the development of object construction ability has rarely been studied and its trajectory has not been adequately described. The purpose of this study was to describe the development of three types of object construction (stacking, nesting, and affixing) across 5 monthly infant visits and 7 monthly toddler visits using a longitudinal design and a large sample size. Infants (10–14 months, n = 131) and toddlers drawn from the infant sample (18–24 months, n = 65) were given sets of age‐appropriate toys each of which elicited at least one type of constructive play. We described success at different construction tasks and identified trends for construction skill for infant and toddler development using multilevel modeling. We found that each of the three construction actions developed in unique ways across the 10‐ to 24‐month period. Infant construction skill predicted the development of toddler skill, but toddler construction skill diverged from infant trajectories. We discuss the role of combination strategies in the development of object construction skill and how object construction could be related to other domains of development.
... Prior research emphasizes the role of language (e.g. Alloway & Passolunghi, 2011;Kleemans, Segers, & Verhoeven, 2011;Krajewski & Schneider, 2009;LeFevre et al., 2010;Noël, 2009;Passolunghi, Vercelloni, & Schadee, 2007;Purpura & Ganley, 2014;Purpura & Reid, 2016;Zuber, Pixner, Moeller, & Nuerk, 2009), general intelligence (Deary, Strand, Smith, & Fernandes, 2007), verbal and visuo-spatial working memory (Holmes, Adams, & Hamilton, 2008;Hornung et al., 2014;Nath & Szücs, 2014;Szucs, Devine, Soltesz, Nobes, & Gabriel, 2013), and executive functions (Bull, Johnston, & Roy, 1999;Cameron et al., 2012;Clements et al., 2016;Cragg & Gilmore, 2014;Szucs, Devine, Soltesz, Nobes, & Gabriel, 2014;Van de Weijer-Bergsma et al., 2015) for mathematical development. ...
... -Pattern of spatial skills predicting math outcome varying across grades (Table 5) -Pattern of mathematical aspects predicting spatial skills varying across grades (Table 6), but e.g. Place-value predictive of spatial skills in each age group -Spatial skills predict novel versus familiar math tasks differentially Nath & Szücs (2014) -N = 66 -7-year olds, 2 nd graders -Block building (Legoconstruction task) A very special thank you to Christine, for your continuous and enthusiastic support (from the first moment I expressed the wish to undertake PhD studies). Thank you for your availability and for guiding me through this thesis. ...
Thesis
Early mathematical abilities, developed prior the onset of formal instruction, have been identified as a strong predictor of later mathematical achievement and numeracy, which goes along, in turn, with a variety of different life outcomes. Hence, unravelling the cognitive abilities associated with successful mathematical development is an important effort in the field of numerical cognition and developmental psychology. Abilities that are identified as predictors of mathematical development are potentially vital key targets of early interventions. By fostering these key abilities, children’s mathematical development should be positively influenced. The present thesis pursues two major aims. The first aim is to identify key predictors of mathematical development. More precisely, the present thesis studies whether spatial skills fall within the category of key predictors in young children. Findings illustrate that different aspects of spatial skills emerge as strong predictors of mathematics (study I). Findings further highlight, that spatial skills hold a pivotal role for mathematical skills with a prominent verbal component (study II). The second aim is concerned with the elaboration and scientific investigation of the effects of early interventions. A distinguishing feature of the present thesis is, that it is set in the Luxembourgish school setting. The latter is characterized by its heterogeneous student population from diverse language backgrounds. According to current statistics, around two-third of the children who attend Luxembourgish fundamental school do not speak Luxembourgish as a first language at home. Hence, an important number of children are not fluent in the language of instruction in preschool. Therefore, a central concern was to develop and implement early interventions that face the challenges posed by a multilingual school setting. For this reason, the language-neutral early mathematics training tool “MaGrid” was developed. MaGrid sets out to overcome the language-barrier in early mathematics education. On the content side, it encompasses a vast amount of number-specific and spatial training tasks. In the context of the present thesis two intervention studies (study III and study IV), including this tool, were run and yielded promising results. Results of these studies further add to unravelling the relation between spatial skills and mathematics and answering the question, whether the (early) road to mathematics is spatial indeed.
... There is strong evidence that early block building skills and experiences are predictive of a range of spatial skills Kersh, Casey, & Young, 2008;Newman, Hansen, & Gutierrez, 2016;Serbin & Connor, 1979;Sprafkin et al., 1983). Furthermore, associations between block construction skills and early math have also been found (Nath & Szücs, 2014;Verdine et al., 2017). ...
... This pattern was obtained after controlling for child intelligence at age 2, mothers' educational level, and income-to-needs. Thus, our findings are consistent with the extensive literature showing an association between spatial and math skills in children (Mix & Cheng, 2012), and also provides additional support for the findings in the literature that young children's spatial skills specific to block building predict math achievement (Nath & Szücs, 2014;Verdine et al., 2017). It is of further interest that when children's math achievement at age 4.5 was statistically controlled in Model 4, this spatial-math association in first grade was no longer significant. ...
Article
The goal of this study was to examine fathers’ support of their children's spatial learning during a joint block-building task at the beginning of first grade as a predictor of their children's math achievement at the end of first grade. Observational measures of videotaped father–child interactions from the Boston site of the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (N = 105) were used to examine the effectiveness of spatial support during a block building task. Trained observers rated fathers’ spatial support by applying two approaches: (a) a qualitative rating scale assessing level of paternal spatial concept support involving encouragement of child spatial learning and enriched spatial explanations, and (b) a measure assessing quantitative paternal spatial location language support. A significant sex by quality of spatial concept support interaction showed that for girls (but not for boys), fathers’ qualitatively higher spatial concept support predicted superior math achievement scores by the end of first grade, even after controlling for a host of variables, including children's math achievement at age 4.5 years, family income, child intelligence and ratings of fathers’ and mothers’ general cognitive support (e.g., support for a range of perceptual, cognitive, and linguistic development) across all parent–child activities during the first grade home visit. The quantitative measure of frequency of paternal spatial location language support was not predictive of math, but children's independent accuracy on the block building task did predict math achievement. Though only correlational, findings suggest that fathers may have an important role to play in providing high-quality spatial concept support for their young daughters.
... In 1st grade, experimental disruption of VSWM using a dual task harms arithmetic performance (McKenzie et al., 2003). In 2nd and 3rd grades, VSWM relates to calculation skills (Nath & Szücs, 2014) and general math achievement (Gathercole & Pickering, 2000;Meyer et al., 2010). These relations are not only concurrent but also predictive. ...
Article
The Cambridge Handbook of Cognition and Education - edited by John Dunlosky February 2019
... Complex terms or processes such as sustainability and the environment can be explored in the maker process through manipulation of play environments and loose parts that contribute to multimodal meaning making. For young children, the playmaking and creative possibilities in a makerspace enables children to engage in more imaginative possibilities exploring more challenging societal concerns through digital and maker literacies [4][5][6], computational skills [7,8], and STEM concepts [9][10][11]. The manipulation of digital tools and crafting materials in the maker process personalizes the learning process, as children control and direct the path of learning. ...
Article
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In a world that grows increasingly aware of ecological problems such as global warming, rising sea levels, and pollution, we need to reconsider how we connect ourselves to the natural world around us. In this paper, we view makerspaces as ideal locations to shape children’s emotional, sociocultural, and educational consciousnesses about the environment and our multi-layered roles undertaken to live in, and conserve, it. We apply third space, makerspace, and relational value theories in the analysis of a research project conducted with children at an early childhood centre. This project invited children to discuss ocean conservation prompted by the picturebook Flotsam (2006) and create three-dimensional exhibits that express how they visualize ocean conservation. Our research shows that children develop strong emotional connections to tangible representations of conservation when they are given the time to invest in making them, and that these emotional connections are driving forces for relational values that create conservation-oriented mindsets. It also shows how important context is for shaping the ways children learn, and that providing opportunities to examine conservation through makerspaces as a third space encourages children to create empathetic and personal relationships with the natural world.
... It is through such exploratory engagements that children learn not only about the physical and spatial properties of their environment, but about their own capacity for manipulating objects or environments towards some intrinsic goal or problem [1,2,41]. The skills developed during exploratory play, such as sensory observation and an understanding of cause-and-effect relationships, are key to cognitive development; they can stimulate creative thinking, spatial reasoning, and problem solving, and are also considered central to math and science learning [2,8,35,[42][43][44][45]. Several studies also suggest exploratory play with objects helps to lay the foundations for language development and literacy skills, particularly when combined with pretense [34]. ...
Article
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Engagement in play has been definitively linked to the healthy development of children across physical, social, cognitive, and emotional domains. The enriched nature of high-quality outdoor play environments can afford a greater diversity of opportunities for play than indoor settings. To more effectively design outdoor play settings, we must better understand how the physical environment supports, or hinders, the different types of play which suit children’s needs and interests. However, play typologies or observation tools available to date do not adequately capture the unique characteristics of outdoor play. This paper outlines the development and testing of the Tool for Observing Play Outdoors (TOPO), a new typology of outdoor play, as well as a systematic field observational protocol which can be used to effectively depict children’s behaviors in outdoor spaces, as well as evaluate the play environment itself. The tool can be deployed in either a collapsed or expanded form to serve the needs of a wide range of studies and environments. This new tool represents a significant advance in the ability to fully and effectively study and plan outdoor play environments to provide more diverse, high-quality play settings that will support the healthy development of children across the spectrum.
... Spatial reasoning has consistently been linked to success in STEM outcomes and lifelong STEM career achievement (Kell, Lubinski, Benbow, & Steiger, 2013;Lean & Clements, 1981;Nath & Szücs, 2014;Wai, Lubinski, & Benbow, 2009). Historically, educational focus is often directly on pedagogical content related to reading, mathematics, and science. ...
Article
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Background Spatial reasoning skill has consistently been found to be malleable. However, there is little research to date on embedding spatial training within learning frameworks. This study evaluated the effects of a classroom-based spatial reasoning intervention on middle school children’s spatial reasoning. Participants included 337 students from 15 classrooms across 6 schools with 8 experimental and 7 control classes. The program was designed for grades 3, 4, 5, and 6. The intervention program was delivered within the Experience-Language-Pictorial-Symbolic-Application (ELPSA) framework and was delivered across 10 weeks by classroom teachers, while the control group received standard mathematics instruction. Results Children in the experimental classes outperformed the control classes on spatial reasoning at the conclusion of the program. The intervention program received high levels of engagement and evidence for development through the stages of the ELPSA framework. Conclusions This paper provides evidence for the effectiveness of a rich spatial training program delivered within a learning framework. This program has applications for spatial thinking in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (10.1186/s41235-018-0147-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
... Although a factor analysis has demonstrated that these three components adequately describe WM performance of children (Alloway, Gathercole, & Pickering, 2006), other studies have demonstrated that a distinction between visuospatial and verbal WM describe children's performance more adequately (Jarvis & Gathercole, 2003;Swanson, 2017). The latter distinction, between visuospatial and verbal WM, is employed in many studies targeting the role of WM in various domains of performance (e.g., Jarvis & Gathercole, 2003;Nath & Szücs, 2014;Pham & Hasson, 2014) and has been adopted in the current study. ...
Article
Full-text available
Working memory (WM) is an important predictor for academic learning and achievement. Typically, children’s WM is assessed in controlled testing situations, which might not reflect functioning in typical classroom learning situations with natural distractions. In this study, we compared WM performance in controlled and classroom situations and their predictive value for academic achievement. Also, we examined whether performance differences between situations were moderated by attention or response inhibition. In a within-subjects design, primary school children completed visuospatial and verbal WM tasks in two settings (classroom versus controlled individual setting). First, WM functioning was lower in the classroom setting. Second, attention moderated individual differences in this discrepancy between settings, but response inhibition did not. Third, classroom obtained verbal WM scores were the strongest predictors of academic achievement. Our results indicate that classroom assessment of verbal WM provides a more ecologically valid measurement of WM abilities in a real-life learning situation.
... have not yet been clearly defined, it is known that when children play they develop important basic brain functions (Nath & Szücs 2014). One such function is visuospatial ability. ...
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Background: Literature reveals that guided play promotes the development of visuospatial abilities essential for learning to read, write and do mathematics. However, most of these findings have focused on older children who are already literate, and the tests and the instruments used were designed for children in Western contexts. Aim: As there is little data on the development of visuospatial abilities in pre-literate children in African contexts, this study set out to explore the effects of using a guided block play intervention on the development of these abilities in pre-literate children. Setting: The study was carried out in two classrooms (one experimental and the other comparative) in each of two schools, one in South Africa and one in Kenya. Methods: The study used a pre- and post-test, quasi-experimental, mixed-methods approach. The intervention and test used, namely, the Visual Perception Aspects Test, were designed and validated in African contexts. Results: The data revealed that using the 6 Brick Duplo Block guided play approach statistically significantly accelerated the development of visuospatial abilities in pre-literate children in the experimental groups over those in the control groups (no intervention). The data also revealed that the greatest improvements were made among children who had few prior opportunities to engage in guided play using physical manipulatives. Conclusion: The overall findings of the study suggest that the development of aspects of visuospatial perception is accelerated when teachers use this approach to facilitate guided play. This finding has implications for promoting the development of reading, writing and numeracy skills in pre-literate children.
... For example, one research study found that the quality of block play at four years of age was a predictor of high school mathematics achievement (Wolfgang, Stannard, & Jones, 2001). Another study found a relationship between young children's construction skills (such as playing with jigsaw puzzles and blocks) and strong number sense as well as success in solving mathematical word problems (Nath & Szücs, 2014). Researchers have also underlined that the link between spatial reasoning and math is so strong that it is "almost as if they are one and the same thing" (Dehaene, 1997, p. 125). ...
Article
Spatial reasoning involves those skills that allow one to mentally picture and manipulate objects which plays a unique role in learning and succeeding in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields (STEM). Despite the urgent need for strong spatial reasoning skills, our current education system spends little time fostering elementary students’ visual and spatial reasoning skills. This is becoming increasingly problematic as the need to become literate in the STEM fields has never been greater. The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the spatial reasoning skills that preservice teachers demonstrated and how their spatial reasoning skills were used in the enactment of the tasks of teaching. Thirty-two preservice teachers completed a spatial reasoning task. Each preservice teacher then teamed with their practicum partner, created an adapted plan using the same spatial reasoning task, and enacted their plan with an elementary student in Grades K-5. Finding from this study indicate that the spatial reasoning skills of preservice teachers are weak, which hinders flexible thinking when observing elementary students engaged in a spatial reasoning task. How learners represent and connect pieces of knowledge is a critical factor in whether they will understand it deeply and can use it in problem solving. Advisor: Lorraine M. Males
... Therefore, spatial training can be beneficial for both children and adolescents. For children, spatial training can be rooted in the real world to develop direct experience by using regular activities such as paper folding, paper cutting (Burte et al. 2017), and Lego construction (Nath and Szücs 2014). For adolescents, it is better to carry out spatial training through comprehensive courses involving theory and practice in a series of spatial skills (Miller and Halpern 2013;Patkin and Dayan 2013;Sorby et al. 2013). ...
Article
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The relationship between spatial and mathematical ability is controversial. Thus, the current study conducted a meta-analysis of 73 studies, with 263 effect sizes to explore the relationship between spatial and mathematical ability. Furthermore, we explored potential factors that moderate this relationship. Results showed that the relationship between mathematical and spatial ability was not simply linear. Specifically, logical reasoning had a stronger association with spatial ability than numerical or arithmetic ability with spatial ability. Intrinsic-dynamic, intrinsic-static, extrinsic-dynamic, extrinsic-static spatial ability, and visual–spatial memory showed comparable associations with mathematical ability. The association between spatial and mathematical ability showed no differences between children, adolescents, and adults and no differences between typically developing individuals and individuals with developmental disabilities. The implications of these findings for theory and practice are discussed.
... According to the previous studies, the specific ways of the interventions or training of general cognitive abilities, such as spatial ability, can be rooted in the real world (Xie et al. 2020). For example, educators and teachers can use regular activities such as paper folding, paper cutting (Burte et al. 2017), and Lego construction (Nath and Szücs 2014) to develop children's spatial ability. Passig and Eden (2001) used a virtual game to improve the spatial ability of d/Dhh children and found that practicing with VR 3D spatial rotations significantly improved the performance of spatial rotation in d/Dhh students. ...
Article
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General cognitive and specific numerical abilities that underlay mathematical performance have been heavily investigated among hearing students; however, the inquiry has rarely been applied to students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing (d/Dhh). We examined whether general cognitive abilities (i.e. nonverbal IQ, processing speed, and spatial ability) and specific numerical abilities (i.e. symbolic and non-symbolic numerical magnitude processing) are related to mathematics achievement in 198 d/Dhh students in Grades 3 to 9. The results of our regression models indicated that, the three general cognitive abilities independently explained the variance in mathematics achievement when entered in one step; and spatial ability and processing speed had an independent contribution to mathematics achievement in the presence of the specific numerical abilities. The specific numerical abilities independently explained the variance in mathematics achievement when entered in one step; however, none of them had an independent contribution to mathematics achievement in the presence of the general cognitive abilities. These findings suggested that mathematics achievement in d/Dhh students depended more on general cognitive abilities, such as spatial ability and processing speed, than on specific numerical abilities.
... In 1st grade, experimental disruption of VSWM using a dual task harms arithmetic performance (McKenzie et al., 2003). In 2nd and 3rd grades, VSWM relates to calculation skills (Nath & Szücs, 2014) and general math achievement (Gathercole & Pickering, 2000;Meyer et al., 2010). These relations are not only concurrent but also predictive. ...
Article
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Cambridge Core - Cognition - The Cambridge Handbook of Cognition and Education - edited by John Dunlosky
... In addition, inductive reasoning seems to be significantly important in the field of mathematics and especially in problem solving [5]. There is evidence to support the idea that there are cognitive abilities affecting mathematical achievement in primary school, such as working memory and attention [6][7][8][9][10], as well as executive functions such as inhibition, switching, and updating [11][12][13][14]. Working memory and executive functions are positively correlated with mental arithmetic skills, i.e., solving arithmetic problems without paper and pencil, especially for students with high levels of math anxiety [15]. ...
Article
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Mathematical achievement during the first years of primary school seems to be a reliable predictor of students’ later performance. In addition, cognitive, metacognitive, and psychological parameters are considered to be factors related to mathematical achievement. However, in the Greek educational system, there is a shortage of valid and reliable tools for the assessment of mathematics difficulties and as a consequence, identification of children with these difficulties does not take place before the last years of primary school. This study aims to investigate the relationship between working memory, sustained attention, executive functions, and math anxiety with mathematical achievement in 2nd and 3rd graders. The design of the study was based on the parameters of mathematics difficulties, as they arise from the literature review. Ninety-one Year 2 and Year 3 primary school students (mean age 8.06 years) from three public schools situated in Attica, Greece participated in the study. The students completed three different scales including educational, cognitive, and psychological tasks. Results showed that mathematical skills were significantly correlated with sustained attention, inductive reasoning, math anxiety, and working memory. Moreover, mental arithmetic ability, sustained attention, and working memory predicted mathematical achievement of second and third graders. The study’s outcomes verify that sustained attention, inductive reasoning, working memory, and math anxiety are correlated with young students’ mathematical performance. The implications of the results for the development of an assessment tool for early detection of mathematics difficulties will be discussed.
... Studies of play with objects and development of languages skills, mathematical abilities and problem-solving are showing positive results. For example, a study done by (Nath & Szücs, 2014) showed a close correlation between play objects and children's performance in maths and spatial abilities while a comparative study done in Kajiado County by (Ituaruchiu , 2013) with 89 preschool children confirmed that when young learners use play materials during language lessons, they improve their reading and writing abilities. ...
Thesis
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Outdoor play is a basic element of child’s holistic development. And because children spent most of their time in ECD Centres, educators should understand how to provide them with sufficient play opportunities. In Kenya, there are many studies documented on outdoor play, but these studies failed to explain the school related factors that influence children engagement in outdoor activities. Thus, this study sought to investigate personal and material factors that determines children outdoor play behaviours. The study findings may help the Ministry of Education, County Government and educators to make right decisions regarding outdoor play in ECD Centres. The study was pegged on Maria Montessori’s theory of play. The literature reviewed in this study included availability of play materials, time allocation for outdoor play, teacher involvement in children play, and nature of outdoor playgrounds. Descriptive survey design was employed to explore determinants of children’s engagement in outdoor play. As per this study, children’s engagement in outdoor play was the dependent variable while independent variables comprised of aspects such as availability of play materials, allocation of time for outdoor play, teachers’ involvement in children’s play and nature of outdoor playgrounds. The study targeted 240 ECD Centres in Kwale County. Stratified random sampling was used to generate two strata: public and private, while simple random sampling was adopted to obtain 35 ECD teachers. Head teachers were purposively selected from each sampled ECD Centres. Data were gathered using questionnaire and observation checklist. The questionnaire was administered to teachers (n=35) and head teachers (n=24) while the observation checklist was used to record researchers’ observation about the available play materials, nature of playground, teacher’s roles during outdoor play and time allocated for children’s play activities. Qualitative and quantitative data analysis procedures were employed. Data were presented using frequency distribution tables, pie-charts and graphs. Chi-square was used to test the correlation between dependent and independent variables at level of significant of 0.05(P<0.05). The results of this study established that available play materials, teachers’ involvement, allocated time, and the characteristics of play spaces encourages children participation in outdoor play activities. Based on these findings, the study recommended that; educators should invent ways of acquiring more play equipment, KICD should increase time for outdoor lesson, the County Government should ensure schools are registered and they comply with ministry guideline on playgrounds, and school management should fence the playgrounds to keep unwanted guests at bay.
... In the game, the process of misperception was assisted, which, with the active transformation of perception, by a complex thought process, came to qualitatively new creations-concepts (Kamarulzaman, 2015). Construction play is strongly related to mathematical performance in primary school children, and this relationship is mediated by visuospatial memory (Nath & Szücs, 2014). Our findings are also supported by the analysis of the changes that are taking place in the field of the development of concepts of geometric shapes, given by Đokić and Zeljić (2017). ...
Article
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Bearing in mind that one of the key challenges in the school system is the development of mental abilities, in this paper, we discuss the possibilities of the influence of didactic games on the development of concepts about geometric forms, the abilities of analytical and synthetic thinking and the abilities to draw a conclusion. The aim of this research was to examine the possibility of encouraging the development of the thinking skills of first grade pupils of the primary school, using a system of didactic games. Research design involved the implementation of a parallel-group experiment on the sample of 163 primary school pupils (6.5 to 7.5 years old). The following instruments were applied: The Kamenov's instrument for testing the level of development of concepts on geometric shapes, Raven's progressive colour matrices and Kohs Block Design Test. The results of the research showed that the system of didactic games significantly influenced the development of concepts about geometric shapes, the development of the ability to conclude, but not the ability of the analytical and synthetic thinking of pupils. Key words: mental abilities, teaching, system of didactic games, pupil, the ability to draw a conclusion, analytical and synthetic thinking.
... Although the findings from the earlier studies suggested that the effect of working memory training did not generalize to arithmetic (Melby-Lervåg & Hulme, 2013), such transfer was observed in a recent study in which kindergarteners participated in a series of memory games (Kroesbergen, van't Noordende, & Kolkman, 2014). More research is needed to identify effective and generalizable working memory Nath and Szücs (2014) suggested that children's block construction ability was related to their mathematical achievement, and their visuospatial working memory capacity mediated such relation. Based on such correlational evidence, future studies may examine whether block construction activities can enhance visuospatial working memory capacity, which may further facilitate children's mathematical performance. ...
Article
Children having better visuospatial working memory, or the capacity to store and manipulate visuospatial information, perform better in mathematics. Yet, the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. In this study, we proposed a pathway model which linked up visuospatial working memory and mathematical achievement through two routes: numerical magnitude representation and problem representation. The data were drawn from 542 children who were assessed in both Grades 1 and 2. Using path analysis, we found that the association between visuospatial working memory and mathematical achievement was mediated by the deployment of visuospatial processes for magnitude representation (magnitude representation pathway) as well as for problem representation in solving mathematical problems (problem representation pathway). Such findings offer an important framework for developing intervention strategies to help children with poor visuospatial working memory in learning mathematics.
... A remarkable skill that humans learn to master relatively early on in their life is building complex structures using their spatial-reasoning and dexterous manipulation abilities (Casey et al., 2008;Caldera et al., 1999;Kamii et al., 2004). Playing with toy blocks constitutes a natural environment for children to develop important visual-spatial skills, helping them 'generalize' in building complex composition designs from presented or imagined goal structures (Verdine et al., 2017;Nath & Szücs, 2014;Dewar, 2018;Richardson et al., 2014). Inspired by this, CausalWorld is designed to aid in learning and investigating these skills in a corresponding simulated robotics manipulation environment of the open-source TriFinger robot platform from Wüthrich et al. (2020), which can be built in the real world. ...
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Despite recent successes of reinforcement learning (RL), it remains a challenge for agents to transfer learned skills to related environments. To facilitate research addressing this problem, we propose CausalWorld, a benchmark for causal structure and transfer learning in a robotic manipulation environment. The environment is a simulation of an open-source robotic platform, hence offering the possibility of sim-to-real transfer. Tasks consist of constructing 3D shapes from a given set of blocks - inspired by how children learn to build complex structures. The key strength of CausalWorld is that it provides a combinatorial family of such tasks with common causal structure and underlying factors (including, e.g., robot and object masses, colors, sizes). The user (or the agent) may intervene on all causal variables, which allows for fine-grained control over how similar different tasks (or task distributions) are. One can thus easily define training and evaluation distributions of a desired difficulty level, targeting a specific form of generalization (e.g., only changes in appearance or object mass). Further, this common parametrization facilitates defining curricula by interpolating between an initial and a target task. While users may define their own task distributions, we present eight meaningful distributions as concrete benchmarks, ranging from simple to very challenging, all of which require long-horizon planning as well as precise low-level motor control. Finally, we provide baseline results for a subset of these tasks on distinct training curricula and corresponding evaluation protocols, verifying the feasibility of the tasks in this benchmark.
... Therefore, construction play has, for a long time, been considered beneficial for children's concept formation and cognitive development (Montessori, 1917;Piaget, 1951). Studies have found that construction play is related to figure-ground perception, visual-spatial memory, and mathematical abilities (Caldera et al., 1999;Nath & Sz€ ucs, 2014). Block-building activities may improve performance on spatial visualization tasks (Casey et al., 2008). ...
Article
Children with severe motor impairments are restricted in their manipulation and exploration of objects, but little is known about how such limitations influence cognitive development. This study investigated visual-constructional abilities in 75 children and adolescents, aged 5;0–15;11 (years;months), with severe speech impairments and no intellectual disabilities (aided group) and in 56 children and adolescents with typical development (reference group). Verbal comprehension, non-verbal reasoning, and visual-spatial perception were assessed with standardized tests. The task of the participants was to verbally instruct communication partners to make physical constructions identical to models that the partner could not see. In the aided group, 55.7% of the constructions were identical to the models participants described, compared to 91.3% in the reference group. In the aided group, test results explained 51.4% of the variance in construction errors. The results indicate that the participants’ language skills were decisive for construction success. Visual-perceptual challenges were common among the aided communicators, and their instructions included little information about size and spatial relations. This may reflect less experience with object manipulation and construction than children with typical development, and using aided communication to instruct others to make three-dimensional constructions. The results imply a need for interventions that compensate for the lack of relevant experience.
... Lego merupakan seperangkat permainan yang terbuat dari balok-balok yang dapat disusun menjadi berbagai bentuk (Maike, 2008). Lego dapat memunculkan kreativitas siswa dan membangun kerja sama, serta memfasilitasi siswa untuk lebih berkonsentrasi pada proses pembelajaran (Nath, 2014). Penggunaan legodalam pembelajaran juga dapat meningkatkan kemampuan siswa dalam hal menguasai kemampuan yang esensial diantaranya, kemampuan komunikasi, mengemukakan pendapat, mendengarkan pendapat dan menyajikan penyelesaian (Rejeki, 2016). ...
Article
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The students problem in understanding the electron configurations was caused by the ineffective learning media which is used by the teacher didn’t fit the student’s characteristic. Therefore, it is important to develop media of Lego Chemistry games for electron configurations class. The validation of the media is validated in three aspects. They were validity from the results of the game, practicality from the results of the questionnaire, and the effectiveness from the results of the pre and post tests. This study used a Research and Development (R & D) model of Borg and Gall conducted in seven stages. The study showed that media of Lego Chemistry games was suitable for teaching learning process. It can be seen from the results of the material and media aspects by 0,83 and 0,94 which was valid. The results of the practicality of the questionnaires on the small and main tryouts were 92,50% and 90,66% and were considered practical. The results of the effectiveness of the N Gain on the small and main tryouts were 0.74 and 0.92 (high). Therefore, media of Lego Chemistry games was valid and effective. It is suitable to be used as the learning media in Chemistry class.
... Some studies have shown that the intervention or training on general cognitive ability, such as spatial ability, can improve the mathematics performance of hearing children (Cheng & mix, 2014;Clements et al., 2011;Sorby et al., 2018). For example, educators and teachers can use conventional activities such as paper folding, paper cutting (Burte et al., 2017), and Lego construction (Nath & Szücs, 2014) to develop children's spatial ability. Passig and Eden (2001) found that the three-dimensional spatial rotation training of virtual games could be used to improve the spatial rotation ability of deaf children. ...
Article
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Spatial ability has been shown the positive correlations with the mathematics achievement of typically developing children. However, whether there is a relationship between spatial ability and mathematics achievement in deaf children and the mechanisms that underlie the relationship remain unknown. 256 deaf children in Grades 3 to 9 in two special education schools in China performed a series of cognitive and mathematical tests. After controlling for age and gender, we found that spatial ability, processing speed (both accuracy and reaction time), and intelligence were significantly related to mathematics achievement. Moreover, processing speed and intelligence were found to mediate the relationship between spatial ability and mathematics achievement in deaf children. The mediating effect of intelligence was significantly greater than the serial mediating effect of processing speed (accuracy) and then intelligence; both the mediating effect of processing speed (reaction time) and the mediating effect of intelligence were significantly greater than the serial mediating effect of processing speed (reaction time) and then intelligence. These findings suggest a process through which processing speed can decrease intelligence and identify the mediating effects of processing speed (both accuracy and reaction time) and intelligence in the relationship between spatial ability and mathematics achievement in deaf children.
... Future studies could investigate whether activities related to basic abilities can affect the emergence of abstract geometric intuitions (Dillon & Spelke, 2015). Finally, it has been found that tasks such as Lego construction are related to mathematical performance (Nath & Szücs, 2014). For these reasons, it would be very interesting to study whether intervention that uses these activities could also improve related abilities such as geometric learning, but more research is needed in this area. ...
Article
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Many children fail in geometric learning, but factors underlying these failures have not been explored in detail. The present study addresses this issue by comparing fifth and sixth-grade children who had good or poor geometric learning, and were otherwise comparable on verbal intelligence, gender and age. Results showed that children with poor geometric learning have deficits in both arithmetic and geometric problem solving but they are more impaired in the latter. Results also showed that poor geometric learners have weaknesses in working memory, calculation, and visuospatial mental imagery. The results from logistic regressions pointed out that mental imagery skills and arithmetic problem solving ability had the highest discriminatory power in distinguishing between the two groups. Theoretical and practical implications of this research for designing interventions to help poor geometric learners are discussed.
... In a small longitudinal study with 24 children over a 2 year period, from the ages of 5 to 7 years, Pellegrini (1992) reported that object play in recess significantly predicted their first-grade school achievement, even when controlling for kindergarten achievement, and particularly in maths. Nath & Szücs (2014), in a study with 7-yearolds, have also recently reported a positive relationship between abilities on a LEGO construction task and children's mathematics performance (although, as this is a correlation, no causal relationship can be imputed). This is, however, one of a very few studies investigating the mechanisms by which play with objects might impact upon development. ...
Research
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There is a substantial body of research, across a number of disciplines, arguing for the importance of play in human development, and, in some cases, proposing intriguing potential mechanisms that might explain the role of play in children’s cognitive, emotional and social learning. In this white paper, we review this evidence in relation to specific types of play, and begin to set out an agenda for play research going forward.
... Block construction tasks are part of the heterogeneous class of spatial reasoning skills, which have been shown to predict various aspects of academic and career achievements (Hsi, Linn, & Bell, 1997;Kell, Lubinski, Benbow, & Steiger, 2013;Sorby, 1999;Stannard, Wolfgang, Jones, & Phelps, 2001;Verdine et al., 2014;. The broad use of block construction to capture cognitive ability (e.g., Brosnan, 1998;Caldera et al., 1999;Casey et al., 2008;Groth-Marnat & Teal, 2000;Nath & Szücs, 2014;Richardson, Hunt, & Richardson, 2014) may lie in its apparent simplicity as an activity, combined with its actual complexity as a cognitive task, whose solution is realized through action. Like assembling furniture, driving a car, or preparing a meal, block construction tasks require serialized step-by-step motor actions that are guided by complex cognitive skills. ...
Article
Spatial construction—the activity of creating novel spatial arrangements or copying existing ones—is a hallmark of human spatial cognition. Spatial construction abilities predict math and other academic outcomes and are regularly used in IQ testing, but we know little about the cognitive processes that underlie them. In part, this lack of understanding is due to both the complex nature of construction tasks and the tendency to limit measurement to the overall accuracy of the end goal. Using an automated recording and coding system, we examined in detail adults’ performance on a block copying task, specifying their step‐by‐step actions, culminating in all steps in the full construction of the build‐path. The results revealed the consistent use of a structured plan that unfolded in an organized way, layer by layer (bottom to top). We also observed that complete layers served as convergence points, where the most agreement among participants occurred, whereas the specific steps taken to achieve each of those layers diverged, or varied, both across and even within individuals. This pattern of convergence and divergence suggests that the layers themselves were serving as the common subgoals across both inter and intraindividual builds of the same model, reflecting cognitive “chunking.” This structured use of layers as subgoals was functionally related to better performance among builders. Our findings offer a foundation for further exploration that may yield insights into the development and training of block‐construction as well as other complex cognitive‐motor skills. In addition, this work offers proof‐of‐concept for systematic investigation into a wide range of complex action‐based cognitive tasks.
... Le abilità spaziali coinvolgono l'abilità di generare immagini mentali, di tenerle in mente mentre si stanno processando altre informazioni con il supporto della memoria di lavoro, di manipolare e trasformare tali immagini, di applicare questi tipi di processi multi-spaziali al ragionamento e alla soluzione di problemi (Nath & Szücs, 2014). ...
Article
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Playing represents a fundamental activity for children’s growth. Games consisting in manipulating blocks, especially, seems to have an important role in the child’s cognitive development. Many studies have been conducted for investigating the various aspects of playing with blocks, in order to understand its actual effectiveness in relation to different cognitive skills. A first area of research regards the relationship between playing with building blocks and visual-spatial ability; a second one examines the relationship between playing with building blocks and mathematic skills; a third one explores the relationship between buil�ding blocks, visual-spatial skills, numerical intelligence in its various components and mental imagery. These studies suggest that playing with blocks represents an important recreational and educational tool with a high capacity to enhance the overall cognitive development and specific skills like the mathematical ones. This narrative review offers an analysis of the existing empirical evidence on playing with building blocks in order to understand its actual effectiveness. In an historical period where electronic devices are gradually replacing the manual games that have always accompanied human development, knowing the state of this kind of research may represent a source of reflection for reconsidering scholastic programs with the aim of a possible return to specific manual playing activities, in order to enhance cognitive functioning and specific school skills.
... In the school year of 2019 in the School, a doctoral research project is developed in which different learning [13], to strengthen the learning of mathematics in the seventh grade, during that time execution different activities are carried out applying instruments to see some topics contemplated for the course according to the Mathematics Area Plan [15], by the institution. With the realization of this experience, the students of the seventh-grade groups had the opportunity to handle the LEGO Education Kit 9686: Simple and Motorized Machines and kit of the Reference Fischer Technik L2 and D2 with which small constructions of prototypes of real-life objects that are in their environments such as models of cars, boats, swings, scales or any known [16][17][18][19]. For the participation of seventh grade students in the fair, it was established that the development and construction of a project would be used using the STEAM methodology [2,11], which helps to strengthen and promote the teaching-learning processes of students in an interdisciplinary way through different processes in which research, exploration and their interest lead to new concepts in different areas. ...
Article
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This article explains details of the participation in the Science Fair that took place in the 2019 school year by some seventh-grade students from “Colegio Isidro Caballero Delgado”, Floridablanca, Colombia. This event is a space established by the institution, which takes place once a year to show different projects and experiments carried out by students from each of the school grades. The seventh-grade students for their participation took as their theme an Amusement Park; with this theme, they built different prototypes that resemble mechanical attractions using LEGO Education cards and applying STEAM. The aim is to explain different themes seen in the mathematics course during the year playfully and amusingly to the participating public through the operation of each of these prototypes and physics topics in its structure or operation. The structure of the document contains a first section, the introduction in which the context of the educational institution, the development of the science fair, and the use of LEGO Education cards for the 2019 version are addressed; a section II where the methodology and the applied strategy are detailed; in section III the results obtained are mentioned, and finally, in section IV the conclusions and possible recommendations are presented.
... The most widely used model of WM is the one by Baddeley and Hitch (1974) that divides WM into several components, among which are two simple buffer components (visuospatial sketchpad and phonological loop) and a core component that was dubbed the central executive. However, a strong research tradition exists in which WM is divided into verbal and visuospatial WM (e.g., Jarvis & Gathercole, 2003;Nath & Szűcs, 2014), which adequately describes children's WM performance according to factor analyses (Jarvis & Gathercole, 2003;Swanson, 2017). This distinction has also been adopted in the two studies presented in this paper. ...
Article
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Number sense and working memory contribute to mathematical development throughout primary school. However, it is still unclear how the contributions of each of these predictors may change across development and whether the cognitive contribution is the same for children with and without mathematical difficulties. The aim of the two studies in this paper was to shed light on these topics. In a cross-sectional design, a typically developing group of children (study 1; N = 459, Grades 1–4) and a group with mathematical difficulties (study 2; N = 61, Grades 4–6) completed a battery of number sense and working memory tests, as well as a measure of arithmetic competence. Results of study 1 indicated that number sense was important in first grade, while working memory gained importance in second grade, before predictive value of both predictors waned. Number sense and working memory supported mathematics development independently from one another from Grade 1. Analysis of task demands showed that typically developing children rely on comprehension and visualization of quantity-to-number associations in early development. Later in development, pupils rely on comparing larger numerals and working memory until automatization. Children with mathematical difficulties were less able to employ number sense during mathematical operations, and thus might remain dependent on their working memory resources during arithmetic tasks. This suggests that children with mathematical difficulties need aid to employ working memory for mathematics from an early age to be able to automatize mathematical abilities later in development.
... Playing with blocks not only offers children many opportunities to develop and practice their mathematical knowledge and skills through sorting, classifying, comparing and constructing, but also has a positive effect on their future mathematical achievement (Casey and Bobb 2003;Nath and Szücs 2014;Trawick-Smith et al. 2017). To maximize the benefits of unit block play for math teaching and learning, teachers should provide children with appropriate guidance, such as posing problems, using open-ended prompts, and offering challenges, to extend children's mathematical knowledge and thinking (Cohen and Emmons 2017). ...
Article
In China, a shift in early math teaching from a teacher-directed approach to a child-centered approach has been recommended. This study explored Chinese teachers' beliefs about early math teaching and learning, math teaching efficacy, and math-related practices in the context of unit block play. Early childhood teachers (N = 391) from Ningbo, Zhejiang province, participated in this study. The results of a questionnaire-based survey indicated that teachers' beliefs about math teaching and learning and math teaching efficacy were significant predictors of their math teaching practices during unit block play. Math teaching efficacy mediated the positive relationship between constructivist beliefs and child-centered practices, but not between traditional beliefs and teacher-directed practices. The results have implications for early childhood teacher education in China and future studies on early math teaching and learning.
... They conclude that children's numerical and spatial abilities are related at the level of shared underlying processes across development and remain functionally distinct on each occasion. In addition, they mention several studies which show that spatial skills are correlated with performance in mathematics and that they can be improved via interventions in the classroom, above all in early education like primary school and preschool contexts (e.g., Cheng & Mix, 2014;Levine, Ratliff, Huttenlocher& Cannon, 2012;Lowrie, Logan & Ramful, 2017;Nath & Szücs, 2014;Witt, 2011). Young et al. (2018a) provide evidence that "forms of early intervention, which help to get children's spatial and numerical skills on track early, are especially important to closing later gaps in achievement across STEM areas" (p.139). ...
Article
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Spatial ability is considered a major factor of intelligence and is increasingly important in times of digitization. This article explores the fostering of spatial ability through computer-aided design software. Different notions of spatial ability will be discussed, and, finally, a concept consisting of five aspects will be described. In addition, literature reviews on the connection between the use of computers and the fostering of spatial ability, as well as on the use of 3D printing technology in mathematics education, are given. Building on this, a case study is presented which examines the work of two middle-school students using computer-aided design software within a workshop at the University of Siegen. From the data material, basic possible actions within such software are derived. These are, based on theory, connected with the five aspects of the specific concept of spatial ability used. The results show various perspectives for the fostering of spatial ability with computer-aided design software.
... Les jeux de construction nécessitent qu'un lien soit fait entre la connaissance de l'objet, l'emplacement de l'objet et l'organisation structurelle. Ceci expliquerait pourquoi les jeux de construction sont liés à un certain nombre de compétences spatiales à un âge plus avancé, notamment concernant la rotation mentale (Brosnan, 1998), la visualisation spatiale (Jirout & Newcombe, 2015), la transformation spatiale (Verdine et al., 2014), les mathématiques (Nath & Szücs, 2014) et le langage spatial (Marcinowski & Campbell, 2017). ...
Article
Le jeu de la naissance à l’âge de 2 ans connaît un regain d’intérêt récent. Les prémices du jeu sont abordées à travers l’importance de l’intégration multisensorielle. Cet article présente ensuite le développement du jeu avec les objets et ses prérequis sensori-moteurs, ainsi que le développement du jeu social et l’influence de l’attention conjointe. À travers le jeu, le nourrisson acquiert et consolide de nombreuses compétences sensori-motrices, langagières, sociales, émotionnelles et visuo-spatiales.
... Opposing views posit that cognitive development involves a shift towards abstraction and student's self-belief (Nath & Szücs, 2014;Bonilha, Hermann, kellerman & Lin, 2015;Barrouillet, 2015;Bonne & Johnston, 2016). Braithwaite, Goldstone, van der Maas, and Landis (2016) contest the notion of using abstraction for cognitive development by arguing that pupils' age and experience must be considered. ...
... Not surprisingly, psychologists have also used block building to measure children's intellectual development (Caldera et al., 1999;Hayashi and Takeshita, 2009;Ness and Farenga, 2016). Empirical studies have further found that preschool children who showed a high level of block construction would attain better math and reading achievement during their school years (elementary through high school), even after controlling for other general cognitive abilities (Wolfgang et al., , 2003Hanline et al., 2010;Nath and Szücs, 2014;Richardson et al., 2014;Verdine et al., 2014b). ...
Article
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Block building is a popular play activity among young children and is also used by psychologists to assess their intelligence. However, little research has attempted to systematically explore the cognitive bases of block-building ability. The current study (N = 66 Chinese preschoolers, 32 boys and 34 girls; mean age = 4.7 years, SD = 0.29, range = 3.4 to 5.2 years) investigated the relationships between six measures of spatial skills (shape naming, shape recognition, shape composition, solid figure naming, cube transformation, and mental rotation, with the former four representing form perception and the latter two representing visualization) and block-building complexity. Correlation results showed that three of the four measures of form perception (shape naming, shape recognition, and shape composition) were significantly and positively correlated with block-building complexity, whereas the two measures of visualization were not. Results from regression models indicated that shape recognition and shape composition, as well as shape-recognition-by-gender interaction, were unique predictors of children's block-building complexity. These findings provide preliminary evidence for the basic spatial skills underlying children's block-building complexity and have implications for classroom instructions aimed at improving preschoolers' block-building complexity.
Chapter
This chapter reviews the spatial literature from the perspective of potential mechanisms for widening the range of spatially-based strategies available when solving math problems. We propose that teaching generalized spatial skills, disconnected from specific math content, may not be the best direction to go in future spatial interventions. Students who do not start out with strong spatial skills may need to learn to develop different types of “spatial sense” specific to each content area. Thus, acquiring and applying spatial strategies may depend in part on developing spatial sense within these specific math domains. In this chapter, we present an overview of evidence for different types of spatial sense that may serve as a prerequisite for effectively applying spatial strategies within these math content areas. The chapter also provides examples of math activities designed to help children acquire spatial sense and apply spatial strategies when solving diverse types of math problems.
Chapter
Numerous studies from cognitive and educational psychology research have highlighted the strong association between spatial reasoning and mathematics performance. This chapter examines this relationship from a mathematics education perspective, with a focus on elementary classrooms. Three spatial constructs critical to mathematics instruction and learning are identified: namely, spatial visualization; mental rotation; and spatial orientation. These constructs are described in relation to student’s encoding and decoding of mathematics information and the increasing influence these constructs have on mathematics assessment. The extent to which spatial training can enhance student’s math performance is also considered in relation to these three constructs. Implications highlight the potential of explicitly focusing on spatial reasoning in math classrooms, given the malleability of instruction and ongoing affordances of technology.
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The body of research surrounding the relationship between visuospatial working memory (VSWM) and mathematics performance remains in its infancy. However, it is an area generating increasing interest as the performance of school leavers comes under constant scrutiny. In order to develop a coherent understanding of the literature to date, all available literature reporting on the relationship between VSWM and mathematics performance was included in a systematic, thematic analysis of effect sizes. Results show a significant influence of the use of a standardised mathematics measure, however, no influence of the type of VSWM or mathematics being assessed, on the effect sizes generated. Crucially, the overall effect size is positive, demonstrating a positive association between VSWM and mathematics performance. The greatest implications of the review are on researchers investigating the relationship between VSWM and mathematics performance. The review also highlights as yet under-researched areas with scope for future research.
Chapter
In this chapter, we review approaches to modeling a connection between spatial and mathematical thinking across development. We critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of factor analyses, meta-analyses, and experimental literatures. We examine those studies that set out to describe the nature and number of spatial and mathematical abilities and specific connections among these abilities, especially those that include children as participants. We also find evidence of strong spatial-mathematical connections and transfer from spatial interventions to mathematical understanding. Finally, we map out the kinds of studies that could enhance our understanding of the mechanism by which spatial and mathematical processing are connected and the principles by which mathematical outcomes could be enhanced through spatial training in educational settings.
Conference Paper
Although digital interactive technology offers innovative, scarcely explored types of instruction, conventional analog paper booklets remain the main instruction format for children's construction play. We examined how a fan-built, digital interactive instructions prototype affected children's construction play compared to an analog booklet. We studied two LEGO building tasks among 20 eight-nine year-old boys. Ten used the prototype on an iPad, 10 the booklet. Using a quasi-experimental research design built on cognitive load theory, we found notable differences in the two construction play processes. Participants with the analog booklet had a faster, more fluent process, while the digital prototype group was more often distracted and seeking help. We propose basic design recommendations for digital interactive instructions for children's construction play, i.e., include a rotational feature, animations, pace control, few buttons, and realistic colors.
Article
Academic skills, such as reading, spelling and arithmetic, are central to meaningful engagement with society throughout adolescence and into adulthood. The disruption caused by on-going seizure activity places children with drug-resistant epilepsy at a particularly high risk of poor academic attainment. Though epilepsy surgery during childhood has long-been associated with various cognitive changes, less is known of the extent to which pediatric epilepsy surgery impacts academic attainment. The aim of the present systematic review was to identify the nature of the effect of pediatric epilepsy surgery on the core academic skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic. The electronic databases Embase, Medline, PubMed, PsychInfo, OpenAire, and the ISRCTN registry were searched for studies examining academic attainment following epilepsy surgery in childhood, over the last three decades. Two thousand three-hundred and sixty-eight articles were screened for relevance. Thirteen studies met the inclusion criteria. Study quality and reliability were independently assessed by two reviewers. Results indicate that academic attainment primarily stabilizes in the first year following epilepsy surgery. Though changes to learning ability would not be expected in this early recovery phase, this review indicates that children do not, at least, lose the academic skills they have acquired before surgery. Postoperative declines in performance were most notably recorded in assessments of arithmetic, suggesting an area of potential vulnerability in this cohort. These declines were noted in cohorts with the longest periods between seizure onset and surgery. While older age at onset and seizure freedom correlated with improved academic attainment, further research is necessary to fully understand the specific effect of epilepsy surgery on academic attainment. Still, the present review provides valuable information regarding the likely academic outcomes in the early years following surgical treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy.
Article
Children’s block building has long been a focus of psychological research, in part because block building skills are thought to be useful indicators of other abilities such as representational thinking. Block building skills are assumed to progress through developmental stages and a number of measures have been developed to assess these skills. In this article, we critically review the literature on two topics related to children’s block building. First, we examine the literature on developmental changes in block play with a focus on the approximate age trends for various block construction abilities. Second, we provide an overview of the scales used to assess block construction complexity such as the Block Building Measure, Building Performance Coding, and Block Structure Complexity Scoring Instrument and propose a conceptual model of the skills involved in block building. Based on this review, we recommend ways to refine existing research methods, improve scale validity, and combine different indices to establish a more comprehensive measure of children’s block construction.
Article
Symbolic representation refers to the use of physical or psychological processes to represent an object in a symbolic form. The present study investigated the development of children’s symbolic representation using a new measure of children's block constructions. Ninety children (44 girls) in three age groups (3-4, 4-5, and 5-6 years) were randomly assigned to reproduce an example of ancient Chinese architecture using either two-dimensional pictures or a three-dimensional scale model. Children in the 3-4 age group produced significantly better constructions in the pictures condition. This picture-superiority effect disappeared in the 4-5 age group. In the 5-6 age group, there was better dimensionality in children's constructions when they used a scale model as the referent. The data identified the age of 4-5 as a critical period for the development of children's symbolic representation to transfer relational information from a scale model to their construction.
Article
Music training programs have shown mixed results on children's executive functions. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the impact of a 10‐week multimodal music program with vocal development, bimanual coordination, and musical improvisation, on children's executive functions. We hypothesized that a 10‐week music program would enhance executive functions in working memory in 4‐ to 6‐year‐old children. Eighty‐four children were randomly assigned to a multimodal music program, an active control Lego program, or no treatment control condition (i.e., randomized controlled design). All children completed measures of music aptitude, music achievement, and executive functions (i.e., EF Touch) pre‐ and post‐training. Results revealed enhanced pitch accuracy and working memory for children in the music training group as compared to the other conditions. Children in the Lego condition demonstrated significant enhancements of spatial working memory. Tonal music aptitude significantly predicted performance on measures of working memory. Contributions to the literature include the randomized controlled design, group multimodal music program appropriate for 4‐ to 6‐year‐old children, and the use of executive function measures sensitive to individual differences. Early childhood is a pivotal period of cognitive development, particularly in inhibition and working memory. Inhibition refers to the ability to control automatic responses, resisting impulse responses. Working memory requires individuals to hold two or more pieces of information in short‐term memory storage while processing other information. We hypothesized these components of children's EF could be enhanced through participation in a multimodal music program.
Chapter
Numeracy is connected to numerous everyday-life tasks and impacts people socially, financially, and professionally. This study aims at investigating the connection of LEGO and numeracy development on the basis of a case analysis. Questionnaires of performance indicators in primary schools and of home numeracy were used to asses children’s mathematical skills and activity frequency at home. Videos of LEGO playing activities were collected and analyzed. Two individual cases are selected to represent extremes on two ends of the spectrum by triangulating various information that have been collected about them. Results revealed that high performance in the mathematics test went along with higher complexity of LEGO construction and vice versa. Moreover, a difference in frequency of home numeracy activities might play a role.
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Understanding children’s emotional perceptions of creative tasks can contribute to the optimal design of music programs. Little is known of how young children perceive vocal tasks, and whether music training changes their emotional perceptions. This research examined children’s facial expressions while performing vocal imitation and improvisation tasks before and after music training. Young children ( N=79) aged four to six years were randomly assigned to a multimodal music program, Lego training, or a no-treatment control group. Their facial expressions while performing the tasks were analyzed, and learning outcomes were assessed by measuring participants’ pitch accuracy and improvisation skills at pre-and post-training. The results yielded no significant differences among the groups’ facial expressions. There was, however, a significant main effect of time such that participants showed more Surprise while performing vocal improvisation tasks. While participants in the multimodal music program scored higher on measures of pitch accuracy and improvisation skill, it may be necessary to increase the duration of early childhood music programs to reduce their feelings of apprehension when performing vocal improvisation tasks.
Article
Through a 48-item questionnaire shared via social media, 546 participants from 47 American States reported on their children’s (ages 0–8) play activities during early social distancing efforts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used for data analysis. Results from the questionnaire indicate participants took social distancing guidelines seriously by keeping children at home and away from other children during the period of social distancing, thus affecting play behaviours. The study’s findings are significant in that they document some parents’ perspectives of their children’s play during a unique period in American history. The authors discuss implications for parent and child play behaviours including the need for more unstructured play time, realities of parents working from home with children present, and the effects of children having a lack of access to peers to play with for sociodramatic and symbolic play. Recommendations for future research are provided.
Article
“Hands‐on learning” and “learning through play” are key terms that museums use to describe the interactive learning environments designed for families with young children. Using A Vastly Different Perspective exhibition at the Children's Art Museum in Taipei (CAMIT) as a case study, this research examines how interactive exhibition is designed and the learning experiences that occur that distinguishes it from other museums. The research shows that the most challenging issue for the CAMIT design team was to translate artistic concepts from the art studio environment into experiences in interactive galleries. It reveals that children engage in different types of play and that the roles of “learners” and “facilitator” interchange flexibly within family interactions. Conclusions of the research suggest two areas for further attention. First, museums like CAMIT need to test new strategies for engaging children and families through exhibit design and second, CAMIT and other museums of its kind may need to experiment with new ways of helping parents facilitate their children's learning in interactive exhibits.
Article
Block building—a prevalent play activity—allows children to practice and develop spatial skills, including learning about the intrinsic properties and extrinsic spatial relations of blocks. Performance on block building taps individual differences in spatial skill and relates to later science and math skills. However, studies of block building typically ignore moment-to-moment block-building behaviors, and rarely target children from diverse backgrounds. We observed the real-time block-building behaviors of 120 5-year-olds from African American, Dominican, Mexican, and Chinese backgrounds as they attempted to replicate 3D block structures built by a researcher. For each structure, we coded time spent building, attention to the target structure, alignment of structure with the target, intrinsic and extrinsic errors, and final success. Alignment and checking related to low errors and high success, with Chinese children showing the most alignment, checking, and success. Shifting attention from “performance” to “process” sheds light on real-time learning during spatial tasks.
Article
「實作學習」和「遊戲學習」兩個關鍵詞,是博物館用以描述專門為兒童及家庭所設計的互動式學習環境。以台北蘇荷兒童美術館⟨CAMIT⟩「角度大不同⟨A Vastly Different Perspective⟩」展覽做為個案進行研究,本研究檢視此兒童美術館如何設計互動式展覽,以及參觀者的學習經驗。本研究顯示,對CAMIT設計團隊而言,最具挑戰性的問題是如何將美術教室中呈現的藝術概念加以轉譯成為互動美術展場的經驗。本研究進一步顯示,家長在展場中擔任「 學習者」和學習「促進者」角色,這兩個角色在參觀過程中會彈性地轉換。 本研究結論建議兩個面向,值得CAMIT及與其相似的兒童互動展場在未來加以關注: 第一,測試新的展覽設計策略,幫助兒童與其家庭能夠在展場中更投入參與。第二,實驗新的輔助方式,幫助家長能夠促進他們的孩子在互動展場中的學習。
Article
The paper aims to present the extent to which the application of the concrete mathematical and musical play contributes to the child’s cognitive development. The research was conducted in two international schools in Belgrade, using the play titled ‘Musical Monkeys’. The results of the research have shown that this kind of approach in working with children encourages attention and motivation, activity and engagement, while requiring and encouraging critical thinking in solving the set of mathematical or musical tasks and contributing to cooperation as well as finding a joint strategy in problem-solving. The obtained results confirm that the children established connection between the mathematical and musical segments, reaching a culmination in a moment of interest within the play, and rises inevitable question – how can mathematics and music be connected?
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In this article, we attempt to distinguish between the properties of moderator and mediator variables at a number of levels. First, we seek to make theorists and researchers aware of the importance of not using the terms moderator and mediator interchangeably by carefully elaborating, both conceptually and strategically, the many ways in which moderators and mediators differ. We then go beyond this largely pedagogical function and delineate the conceptual and strategic implications of making use of such distinctions with regard to a wide range of phenomena, including control and stress, attitudes, and personality traits. We also provide a specific compendium of analytic procedures appropriate for making the most effective use of the moderator and mediator distinction, both separately and in terms of a broader causal system that includes both moderators and mediators. (46 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Fifty-one preschoolers’ play preferences, skills at assembling block structures, and spatial abilities were recorded in this study. There were no sex differences in children’s visual-spatial skills, and play with art materials and children’s free and structured play with blocks were related to spatial visualisation. Two patterns emerged from the findings: (1) activity and performance representing skills in spatial visualisation and visual-motor coordination; and (2) creativity, or the ability to break set and to produce varied solutions using visual materials. Future research might examine the extent to which children’s play activities and experiences predict these types of skills.
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The study of developmental disorders can provide a unique window into the role of domain-general cognitive abilities and neural systems in typical and atypical development. Mathematical disabilities (MD) are characterized by marked difficulty in mathematical cognition in the presence of preserved intelligence and verbal ability. Although studies of MD have most often focused on the role of core deficits in numerical processing, domain-general cognitive abilities, in particular working memory (WM), have also been implicated. Here we identify specific WM components that are impaired in children with MD and then examine their role in arithmetic problem solving. Compared to typically developing (TD) children, the MD group demonstrated lower arithmetic performance and lower visuo-spatial working memory (VSWM) scores with preserved abilities on the phonological and central executive components of WM. Whole brain analysis revealed that, during arithmetic problem solving, left posterior parietal cortex, bilateral dorsolateral and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, cingulate gyrus and precuneus, and fusiform gyrus responses were positively correlated with VSWM ability in TD children, but not in the MD group. Additional analyses using a priori posterior parietal cortex regions previously implicated in WM tasks, demonstrated a convergent pattern of results during arithmetic problem solving. These results suggest that MD is characterized by a common locus of arithmetic and VSWM deficits at both the cognitive and functional neuroanatomical levels. Unlike TD children, children with MD do not use VSWM resources appropriately during arithmetic problem solving. This work advances our understanding of VSWM as an important domain-general cognitive process in both typical and atypical mathematical skill development.
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This chapter is divided into two parts. The first describes the effect of Pat Rabbitt's influence in encouraging the first author to use the increasingly sophisticated methods of ageing research to answer questions about the fundamental characteristics of working memory, together with reflections on why so little of this work reached publication. The second part presents a brief review of the literature on working memory and ageing, followed by an account of more recent work attempting to apply the traditional method of experimental dissociation to research on normal ageing and Alzheimer's disease. The discussion suggests that even such simple methods can throw light on both the processes of ageing and the understanding of working memory.
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A study was conducted in which 133 participants performed 11 memory tasks (some thought to reflect working memory and some thought to reflect short-term memory), 2 tests of general fluid intelligence, and the Verbal and Quantitative Scholastic Aptitude Tests. Structural equation modeling suggested that short-term and working memories reflect separate but highly related constructs and that many of the tasks used in the literature as working memory tasks reflect a common construct. Working memory shows a strong connection to fluid intelligence, but short-term memory does not. A theory of working memory capacity and general fluid intelligence is proposed: The authors argue that working memory capacity and fluid intelligence reflect the ability to keep a representation active, particularly in the face of interference and distraction. The authors also discuss the relationship of this capability to controlled attention, and the functions of the prefrontal cortex.
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Two studies were conducted on block building in adolescents, assessing middle school (Study 1) and high school students (Study 2). Students were asked to build something interesting with blocks. In both samples, the same pattern of gender differences were found; boys built taller structures than girls, and balanced a larger number of blocks on a small base of upright blocks (a new measure developed for this study). Gender differences in the height of structures were fully mediated by this measure of structural balance. These findings suggest that balance elements are key to understanding gender differences in block building. In Study 2, high-school students were given a second task, requiring them to apply structural balance principles (only four upright blocks were provided on which to build), and instructing them to build a tall, complex, well-balanced structure. Gender differences again were found, suggesting that gender differences in block building may be skill-based as well as stylistic. A separate question was whether block-building characteristics at this age have any relevance to math achievement. In both studies, the measure of structural balance was the only block-building characteristic that predicted math achievement. Additional research is needed to understand the cognitive underpinnings of this new spatial measure, how malleable it is, and its further practical significance for adolescent learners.
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2 sets of scales were developed designed to measure the strength of sex typing in children's play patterns in a naturalistic setting. Over a 12-week observational period, the scales based upon those activities showing a sex difference in play preferences appeared to be more stable than those scales based upon adult ratings of masculine and feminine activities. Masculine and feminine activity preferences, as measured by the more stable scales, were correlated with observational measures of other classroom behavior and performance on 3 cognitive tests. These results suggested that (a) many children have already learned to avoid opposite-sex activities by the time they enter nursery school; (b) sex-role learning during the preschool period appears to involve increasing attention to same-sex activities; and (c) the development of visual-spatial ability in boys is related to involvement in masculine activities. The advantages of a behaviorally based definition of masculine and feminine activity preference are discussed.
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The purpose of this study was to explore the predictive relationship between the level of symbolic representation in block constructions of preschoolers and reading and mathematics abilities and rate of growth in early elementary school for children with and without disabilities. Fifty‐one children participated, 22 of whom had identified disabilities. No predictive relationship between representational level of block constructions and maths abilities was found. However, growth curve analysis documented that preschoolers, who had higher levels of representation in their block constructions, had higher reading abilities and a faster rate of growth in reading abilities in the early elementary years. This predictive relationship held true for children with and without disabilities. Findings are discussed in relation to the importance of early experiences that are physically and socially organised to provide young children with the foundation for later learning.
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An experiment is reported which explored the possible dissociation between visual and spatial working memory in children. Children aged 5-6, 8-9 and 11-12 years were given a recognition memory test for visual patterns or for sequences of movements to targets. Memory for patterns was better than memory for movement sequences and this difference was largest in the eldest group, and larger in the middle group than in the younger group. In a contrasting condition, the same groups of children were tested using immediate recall rather than recognition. A similar advantage for visual pattern memory over movement sequence memory appeared, and again this difference became more prominent with the age of the children. The results are interpreted as supporting the fractionation of visuo-spatial working memory into a temporary visual cache for storing visual form and an inner scribe for temporary retention of spatial information.
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This longitudinal study began in 1982 with 37 four year old children who attended the same child care center for at least one year. The participants were assessed on their construction play products of blocks, Legos, and carpentry using the Lunzer Five Point Play Scale. An IQ score was obtained using The McCarthy Scales of Children's Mental Abilities. Gender was also used as a control variable.In 1998, 27 of these participants were found and standardized test scores in mathematics for grades 3, 5, 7, and high school were correlated with play scores. The California Acheivement Test as well as high school higher mathematics classes and honors format classes were noted.Results showed that grades 3 and 5 had little significance found between a participant's play performance and mathematical achievement. At grade 7 and in high school each area of construction play and standardized test scores were found to be significant.
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Construction tasks form a major part of children's play and can be linked to achievement in maths and science. However there is a lack of understanding of construction task ability and development. Therefore, there is little foundation for the applied use of construction tasks, such as in teaching or research, as there are no apparent methods for assessing difficulty. This empirical research identifies four construction task characteristics that impact on cognition and predict construction task difficulty in children aged 7–8 and 10–11 years and adults. The results also reveal a developmental trajectory in construction ability. The research provides a method to quantify, predict and control the complexity of construction tasks for future research and to inform applied use. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. http://derby.openrepository.com/derby/bitstream/10545/292620/1/richardson_jones_croker_brown_preprint.pdf
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This cross-sectional study explored whether participation, from early childhood, in play involving different cognitive abilities predicts visuo-spatial achievement at ages 9, 12, and 15. Based on parental assessment, prior and present practice of spatial manipulation play was found to be consistently more frequent in boys than in girls; the reverse held true for verbal expression play. Whereas boys did not significantly outperform girls in three visuo-spatial tasks, girls were superior on a contrastive vocabulary task. In general, with IQ statistically controlled, regression analyses showed that estimated past and present spatial manipulation play predicted both genders' proficiency in the water-level task and Embedded Figures Test, as did mothers' socioeconomic status for Block Design performance. Contrastingly, a negative relation was established between spatial manipulation play and vocabulary scores. Similar to the activity-ability association often identified among adults, the relation established here between spatial play experience and visuo-spatial ability was only modest. Further research should aim at more definitive conclusions through augmenting both diversity in the visuo-spatial skills measured and sophistication in play behaviour appraisal. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Article
Working memory refers to a mental workspace, involved in controlling, regulating, and actively maintaining relevant information to accomplish complex cognitive tasks (e.g. mathematical processing). Despite the potential relevance of a relation between working memory and math for understanding developmental and individual differences in mathematical skills, the nature of this relationship is not well-understood. This paper reviews four approaches that address the relation of working memory and math: 1) dual task studies establishing the role of working memory during on-line math performance; 2) individual difference studies examining working memory in children with math difficulties; 3) studies of working memory as a predictor of mathematical outcomes; and 4) longitudinal studies of working memory and math. The goal of this review is to evaluate current information on the nature of the relationship between working memory and math provided by these four approaches, and to present some of the outstanding questions for future research.
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The contribution of the three core components of working memory (WM) to the development of mathematical skills in young children is poorly understood. The relation between specific WM components and Numerical Operations, which emphasize computation and fact retrieval, and Mathematical Reasoning, which emphasizes verbal problem solving abilities in 48 2nd and 50 3rd graders was assessed using standardized WM and mathematical achievement measures. For 2nd graders, the central executive and phonological components predicted Mathematical Reasoning skills; whereas the visuo-spatial component predicted both Mathematical Reasoning and Numerical Operations skills in 3rd graders. This pattern suggests that the central executive and phonological loop facilitate performance during early stages of mathematical learning whereas visuo-spatial representations play an increasingly important role during later stages. We propose that these changes reflect a shift from prefrontal to parietal cortical functions during mathematical skill acquisition. Implications for learning and individual differences are discussed.
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This study examines visual and spatial working memory skills in 35 third to fifth graders with both mathematics learning disabilities (MLD) and poor problem-solving skills and 35 of their peers with typical development (TD) on tasks involving both low and high attentional control. Results revealed that children with MLD, relative to TD children, failed spatial working memory tasks that had either low or high attentional demands but did not fail the visual tasks. In addition, children with MLD made more intrusion errors in the spatial working memory tasks requiring high attentional control than did their TD peers. Finally, as a post hoc analysis the sample of MLD was divided in two: children with severe MLD and children with low mathematical achievement. Results showed that only children with severe MLD failed in spatial working memory (WM) tasks if compared with children with low mathematical achievement and TD. The findings are discussed on the basis of their theoretical and clinical implications, in particular considering that children with MLD can benefit from spatial WM processes to solve arithmetic word problems, which involves the ability to both maintain and manipulate relevant information.
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The paper studies whether visuospatial working memory (VSWM) and, specifically, recall of sequential-spatial information, can be improved by metacognitive training. Twenty-two fourth-grade children were involved in seven sessions of sequential-spatial memory training, while twenty-four children attended lessons given by their teacher. The post-training evaluation demonstrated a specific improvement of performances in the Corsi blocks task, considered a sequential-spatial working memory task. However, no benefits of training were observed in either a verbal working memory task or a simultaneous-spatial working memory task. The results have important theoretical implications, in the study of VSWM components, and educational implications, in catering for children with specific VSWM impairments.
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Hypotheses involving mediation are common in the behavioral sciences. Mediation exists when a predictor affects a dependent variable indirectly through at least one intervening variable, or mediator. Methods to assess mediation involving multiple simultaneous mediators have received little attention in the methodological literature despite a clear need. We provide an overview of simple and multiple mediation and explore three approaches that can be used to investigate indirect processes, as well as methods for contrasting two or more mediators within a single model. We present an illustrative example, assessing and contrasting potential mediators of the relationship between the helpfulness of socialization agents and job satisfaction. We also provide SAS and SPSS macros, as well as Mplus and LISREL syntax, to facilitate the use of these methods in applications.
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Sex differences in spatial ability have been argued to originate from sex differences in children's play preferences. Child (30 boys and 20 girls) were asked to construct a specific three-dimensional model using Lego blocks and were also given the Shepard and Metzler test of mental rotation. Those who completed the Lego model scored significantly higher in spatial ability than those who did not. Constructional ability was also related to errors made during the construction of the model, but spatial ability was the best predictor of completion of the model.
Article
A study was conducted in which 133 participants performed 11 memory tasks (some thought to reflect working memory and some thought to reflect short-term memory), 2 tests of general fluid intelligence, and the Verbal and Quantitative Scholastic Aptitude Tests. Structural equation modeling suggested that short-term and working memories reflect separate but highly related constructs and that many of the tasks used in the literature as working memory tasks reflect a common construct. Working memory shows a strong connection to fluid intelligence, but short-term memory does not. A theory of working memory capacity and general fluid intelligence is proposed: The authors argue that working memory capacity and fluid intelligence reflect the ability to keep a representation active, particularly in the face of interference and distraction. The authors also discuss the relationship of this capability to controlled attention, and the functions of the prefrontal cortex.
Article
In 1974, Baddeley and Hitch proposed a three-component model of working memory. Over the years, this has been successful in giving an integrated account not only of data from normal adults, but also neuropsychological, developmental and neuroimaging data. There are, however, a number of phenomena that are not readily captured by the original model. These are outlined here and a fourth component to the model, the episodic buffer, is proposed. It comprises a limited capacity system that provides temporary storage of information held in a multimodal code, which is capable of binding information from the subsidiary systems, and from long-term memory, into a unitary episodic representation. Conscious awareness is assumed to be the principal mode of retrieval from the buffer. The revised model differs from the old principally in focussing attention on the processes of integrating information, rather than on the isolation of the subsystems. In doing so, it provides a better basis for tackling the more complex aspects of executive control in working memory.