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      Mathematical achievement: the role of spatial and motor skills in 6–8 year-old children


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          Several studies have tried to establish the factors that underlie mathematical ability across development. Among them, spatial and motor abilities might play a relevant role, but no studies jointly contemplate both types of abilities to account for mathematical performance. The present study was designed to observe the roles of spatial and motor skills in mathematical performance. A total of 305 children aged between 6 and 8 years took part in this study. A generalized linear regression model with mathematical performance as a dependent variable was performed. Results revealed that Block design (as a visuospatial reasoning measure) accounted for mathematical performance, especially among 6- and 7-year-olds but not in 8-year-olds. After controlling for the effect of the block design, mental rotation and manual dexterity predicted mathematical performance. These findings highlight the role of underlying cognitive (spatial) and motor abilities in supporting mathematical achievement in primary school children.

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          AIC model selection using Akaike weights.

          The Akaike information criterion (AIC; Akaike, 1973) is a popular method for comparing the adequacy of multiple, possibly nonnested models. Current practice in cognitive psychology is to accept a single model on the basis of only the "raw" AIC values, making it difficult to unambiguously interpret the observed AIC differences in terms of a continuous measure such as probability. Here we demonstrate that AIC values can be easily transformed to so-called Akaike weights (e.g., Akaike, 1978, 1979; Bozdogan, 1987; Burnham & Anderson, 2002), which can be directly interpreted as conditional probabilities for each model. We show by example how these Akaike weights can greatly facilitate the interpretation of the results of AIC model comparison procedures.
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            Intelligence and educational achievement

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              The malleability of spatial skills: a meta-analysis of training studies.

              Having good spatial skills strongly predicts achievement and attainment in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields (e.g., Shea, Lubinski, & Benbow, 2001; Wai, Lubinski, & Benbow, 2009). Improving spatial skills is therefore of both theoretical and practical importance. To determine whether and to what extent training and experience can improve these skills, we meta-analyzed 217 research studies investigating the magnitude, moderators, durability, and generalizability of training on spatial skills. After eliminating outliers, the average effect size (Hedges's g) for training relative to control was 0.47 (SE = 0.04). Training effects were stable and were not affected by delays between training and posttesting. Training also transferred to other spatial tasks that were not directly trained. We analyzed the effects of several moderators, including the presence and type of control groups, sex, age, and type of training. Additionally, we included a theoretically motivated typology of spatial skills that emphasizes 2 dimensions: intrinsic versus extrinsic and static versus dynamic (Newcombe & Shipley, in press). Finally, we consider the potential educational and policy implications of directly training spatial skills. Considered together, the results suggest that spatially enriched education could pay substantial dividends in increasing participation in mathematics, science, and engineering. © 2013 American Psychological Association

                Author and article information

                PeerJ Inc. (San Diego, USA )
                6 October 2020
                : 8
                [1 ]Department of Psychology, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos , Madrid, Spain
                [2 ]Department of Basic Psychology I, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia , Madrid, Spain
                [3 ]Department of Developmental Psychology and Socialisation, University of Padova , Padova, Italy
                [4 ]Department of General Psychology, University of Padova , Padova, Italy
                ©2020 Fernández-Méndez et al.

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.

                Funded by: Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities
                Award ID: RTI2018-098523-B-I00
                This work was supported by Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities (grant numbers RTI2018-098523-B-I00). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Psychiatry and Psychology
                Science and Medical Education

                mathematical achievement,mental rotation,spatial cognition,motor ability,primary school children


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