Examining the Connection Between Dynamic and Static Spatial Skills and Video Game Performance

Abstract

Previous research has found a connection between spatial cognition and success in STEM areas and that spatial cognition skills can be trained using video games. The present study explores whether a relationship exists between non-trained spatial cognition skills and video game performance. Nonvideo game players first completed four spatial cognition tasks and then played two video games, Tetris and Unreal Tournament (UT). Results showed significant correlations between performance on UT and mental rotation, paper-folding, and the Race dynamic spatial task. In contrast, Tetris performance only correlated with paper-folding. These results indicate that performance on action video games such as UT may be related to more spatial skills than Tetris. Keyword: spatial cognition, video games Objective and Rationale The goal of the present study is to examine the relationship between video game performance and performance on tests of static and dynamic spatial skills. The rationale is that (a) spatial skills may be instrumental for success in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and (b) video game playing may be related to the development of spatial skills. Spatial Cognition and STEM Areas In a longitudinal study Wai, Lubinski, and Benbow (2009) examined the connection between adolescents’ spatial ability and later achievement in STEM fields (i.e., science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Cognitive ability measures of mathematical, verbal, and spatial ability for 400,000 participants from the Project TALENT data bank of 9 th -12 th grades were compared to follow-up academic data from 11 years later. Three major conclusions were made from this study: (1) high spatial ability was found among almost all adolescents who went on to achieve educational and occupational credentials in STEM areas; (2) spatial ability was critical for students in the general population as well as those deemed intellectually talented; and (3) restricting talent searches to verbal and mathematical ability may miss many spatially gifted individuals. If we wish to encourage students to go into STEM fields the educational system may need to adapt to include spatial measures in talent assessment as well as to include interventions and training that encourage the development of spatial skills. Studies in different areas of STEM have shown different spatial abilities are used on these tasks. For physics, Kozhevnikov, Hegarty, and Mayer (2002) found that there was a significant correlation between students’ spatial abilities and accuracy on kinematic problems. Further research by Kozhevnikov, Motes, and Hegarty (2007) found several differences between highand lowspatial students and the answer they gave to physics problems. High-spatial students could integrate several motion parameters while low-spatials only considered one. High-spatials used kinematic graphs as abstract representations of motion while lowspatial students interpreted graphs as being picture-like representations. For representations of the problems, high-spatial students could reorganize representations of spatial problems into other corresponding representations while low-spatials used multiple, uncoordinated representations of the same problems. Eye-tracking also showed that high-spatial students made eye movements that corresponded to elements of the problem while low-spatial students did not. The researchers suggested this is due to the highspatial individuals visualizing the correct movement produced when the two movement components were integrated. To help improve performance in engineering, Sorby and Baartmans (2000) developed a 10-week course to help teach spatial visualization skills to freshman engineering majors who were identified as having lower scores on the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test: Rotations (PSVT:R). Twenty-four students took the course while 72 acted as the control group. During the course students were taught topics such as rotations of objects, crosssections of solids, and translation and scaling. Those who participated in the course showed significant gains on the PSVT:R beyond simple practice effects. Furthermore, after later analyzing the transcripts for the all of the 96

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Adams2012ExaminingTC, title={Examining the Connection Between Dynamic and Static Spatial Skills and Video Game Performance}, author={Deanne Adams and Richard E. Mayer}, booktitle={CogSci}, year={2012} }