Spatial cognition and science learning in the primary school years.

5th November 2019 : 17:00 - 18:30

Category: Seminar

Speaker: Alex Hodgkiss, University of Oxford

Location: Department of Education, Seminar Room K/L, Bruner Building C

Seminar Abstract


The importance of spatial thinking to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines has become increasingly recognised in recent years. Previous research also indicates that spatial skills (e.g. mental rotation) are also associated with science learning outcomes, particularly in adult populations. However, research exploring this association with primary school aged children is sparse. In this talk, I will present data from two studies in which we comprehensively investigated the association between children’s spatial skills and science learning. In the first study, we addressed this relationship with 7-11 year olds’ performance on standardised science assessment questions. In the second study, we investigated the relationship with 9 year olds, through the learning outcomes of a primary school physics science lesson. Both studies adopted a novel approach to measuring spatial ability by including tasks which assess four district spatial sub-domains. I will discuss the implications of these findings for spatial training interventions and science instruction.


About the speaker


Dr Alex Hodgkiss is a research officer working on the LiFT project (learning for families through technology), within the child development and learning research group, Department of Education, University of Oxford. He is currently working on the development and evaluation of a parent-delivered early years language intervention. Before joining the department, Alex completed his PhD in Psychology and Education at University College London, under the supervision of Professor Emily Farran, Professor Andrew Tolmie, and Professor Michael Thomas (Birkbeck). His thesis focused on the role of children’s spatial thinking skills in the development of conceptual understanding in science. Prior to this, he worked as a primary school teacher in London schools for 4 years.


About the department of education


In 2019, the University of Oxford’s Department of Education celebrates the 100th year since the passing of a statute creating what was known in 1919 as the University Department for the Training of Teachers. To celebrate our centenary a year-long series of activities will be delivered to address some of the department’s top initiatives for 2019, answer some of the big questions facing education today and to reveal the advancements the department has made to the study of and research in the field of education. Join us as we mark our 100th year and discover more about our anniversary here.

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