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Dynamic Assessment of Spatial Abilities of Young Children: Effects of Gender and Task Characteristics

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Abstract

The main objectives of this study were to investigate: (a) gender differences in spatial abilities of kindergartners, (b) the effects of a teaching, using dynamic assessment (DA), on cognitive modifiability of spatial abilities, and (c) the effects of task characteristics (rotation, symmetry, complexity) on mental rotation performance. Thirty two boys and 32 kindergarten girls, 5 to 6 years old, were administered the Spatial Relations subtest (PMA), the Mental Rotation subtest (CMB), the Visual Figure Ground test, and the Dynamic Embedded Figures Test. The results revealed a significant pre- to postteaching improvement in mental rotation and spatial visualization in both gender groups. Boys showed higher performance than girls on easy preteaching mental rotation tasks but the girls closed the gap on the postteaching test. On difficult mental rotation tasks (e.g., higher rotation or higher complexity) boys and girls showed similar pre-teaching performance, but boys showed higher performance than girls on the postteaching test. Pearson correlations between spatial and verbal abilities were higher among girls than among boys — a result which was explained by the girls’ tendency to use their verbal abilities for solving spatial problems, especially for the spatial visualization tasks. Boys tended to separate between the two domains and use a holistic spatial strategy.

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