"Examining the Relations Between Spatial Skills, Spatial Anxiety, and K‐12 Teacher Practice"

Assistant Professor Kinnari Atit and doctoral student Kelsey Rocha recently published a research article titled “Examining the Relations Between Spatial Skills, Spatial Anxiety, and K‐12 Teacher Practice” in the Mind, Brain, and Education journal.

Examining the Relations Between Spatial Skills, Spatial Anxiety, and K‐12 Teacher Practice

Spatial skills are important for student success in STEM disciplines at the K‐12 educational level. Teachers' spatial skills and feelings about completing spatial tasks influence their teaching as well as their students' spatial learning. However, the relation between teachers' spatial skills and their spatial anxiety is not well understood. Here we investigated if teachers' spatial skills influence two kinds of small‐scale spatial anxiety: (a) anxiety for tasks involving visual imagery and (b) anxiety for tasks involving mental manipulations. In addition, we investigated if teachers' spatial skills in conjunction with their small‐scale spatial anxiety influence the integration of spatial practices, such as gestures and diagrams, into their teaching. Eighty‐two K‐12 teachers completed two subscales of small‐scale spatial anxiety, a measure of spatial skills, and a teaching activities questionnaire. Results indicate that teachers' spatial skills are negatively associated with their spatial anxiety for mental manipulation tasks, and positively associated with their use of spatial practices. These findings highlight the need to account for teachers' spatial skills when considering how to improve students' spatial learning.

Kinnari Atit

Kinnari Atit’s areas of research include the intersection of spatial thinking and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. She examines how to bolster student learning of spatially demanding STEM content (such as learning about molecules in chemistry) through both in-person and multimedia learning platforms. Additionally, she is interested in understanding how K-12 teachers' spatial skills influence their teaching practices, especially when teaching STEM concepts. Dr. Atit is the director of the STEM Teaching and Learning lab


Kelsey Rocha

Kelsey Rocha is an educational psychology doctoral student at the Graduate School of Education at UCR. Kelsey's research interests revolve around STEM teaching and the role that teachers play in their students' acquisition of various STEM-related concepts. Further, she is interested in the role that spatial skills and spatial anxiety play in teacher practice. In the future she also hopes to look at the relationship between different types of spatial skills (i.e. mental rotation, navigation, etc.) and their relationship to specific mathematical concepts (i.e., reasoning about numerical equations at the elementary level, reasoning about geometry problems at the secondary level, etc.).



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