The importance of spatial ability within technology education
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Understanding the factors that impact learners with respect to their academic achievement is critical for enhancing educational provision, and the nature of these factors can vary widely. They could be, for example, cognitive, conative, physiological, or physical. With increased understanding of such factor's teachers can better meet learner needs. Investigations into individual differences are not uncommon within technology education, for example much work has been conducted in the area of attitudes towards technology. However, research into individual cognitive differences is an emerging space. In light of the overwhelming evidence illustrating that spatial ability, commonly described as the ability to generate and manipulate abstract visual images, is positively associated with STEM educational performance and retention, understanding the role of spatial ability in technology education is important. Acknowledging the potential implications of such insight but recognising the lack of contextual evidence, this chapter describes the results of a series of studies conducted with the aim of supporting the development of theory and suggesting recommendations for practice with respect to spatial ability within technology education. A literature review of the extant literature on spatial ability was conducted, and four quantitative studies examined the theorised positionality of spatial ability within technology education, and its relationship with authentic problem solving and other cognitive factors.
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