Can a Domain-General Spatial Intervention Facilitate Children’s Science Learning? A Lesson From Astronomy

Corinne A. Bower, Lynn S. Liben

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Correlational studies link spatial-test scores and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics achievement. Here we asked whether children’s understanding of astronomical phenomena would benefit from a prior intervention targeting a core component of children’s projective spatial concepts—understanding that viewers’ visual experiences are affected by vantage point. Children (8–9 years; N = 66) received outdoor and indoor experiences that did (Experimental) or did not (Control) focus on how scene appearance is affected by viewers' positions and movements. All then received an astronomy lesson about celestial motions (e.g., Sun apparent motion). Experimental-group children scored higher on immediate and 1-week perspective-taking tests and explained celestial phenomena more accurately than did control-group children. Data demonstrate that general spatial training—divorced from specific science content—can aid children’s subsequent learning of scientific phenomena.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-100
Number of pages25
JournalChild development
Volume92
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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