1. Steven Moore
  2. http://www.redlands.edu/study/schools-and-centers/CSS/meet-our-team/steven-moore/
  3. Director of Spatial Studies
  4. Spatial STEM+C
  5. http://sites.redlands.edu/spatial-stemc/
  6. University of Redlands
  1. Mary Moore
  2. Consultant
  3. Spatial STEM+C
  4. http://sites.redlands.edu/spatial-stemc/
  5. University of Redlands
  1. Gary Scott
  2. Visiting Professor
  3. Spatial STEM+C
  4. http://sites.redlands.edu/spatial-stemc/
  5. University of Redlands
Facilitators’
Choice
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Steven Moore

    Steven Moore

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2018 | 06:12 p.m.

    Thank you for visiting the Spatial STEM+C video! Our exploratory project is in the analysis phase, which means that we are continually finding new insights about how spatial thinking activities impacted teachers and students. Most of those could not be included in this brief video. Please let us know if you ave questions about specific results and how we see our project moving forward.

  • Icon for: Kevin Brown

    Kevin Brown

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 11:22 a.m.

    Very important foundational work on STEM education! I am interested in learning more about the kinds of spatial thinking activities that seem to be most effective and how much teacher PD is required to implement these activities? Methods-wise, are you using random assignment to compare the impact of the intervention and how are you measuring computational thinking? Finally, are you seeing any differences in outcomes or effectiveness by gender or race/ethnicity that might help us close later gaps in STEM education or underrepresentation in STEM careers?

  • Icon for: Steven Moore

    Steven Moore

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 03:43 p.m.

    Hi Kevin. Thanks for your question! I''ll handle parts of it. My collaborator, Mary, will handle the rest. With regards to methods, we were unfortunately unable to implement random assignment to treatment and control groups. We worked with the school administrators to promote unbiased assignment of students to classrooms, but the standard mechanisms of school classroom choice had some effect on assignment. We also had an additional problem of students participating in pilot testing of spatial activities during the spring preceding our comparison-group study. These students were flagged and not included in our analysis. To account for these conditions, our statistician assumed non-randomness in the analyses. Our preliminary statistical results are not showing differences in outcomes by gender and race/ethnicity. Both boys and girls, for instance, improved in spatial abilities during the study, but girls did not close the gap with the boys. Although teachers reported anecdotal evidence that low-performing students were benefiting from the spatial activities, we did not measure that effect in our assessments. One explanation for the difference in perceived and measured impact could be the assessments we used. They were standardized assessments designed to measure far-transfer of spatial abilities. If we had also included assessments that measured near transfer of skills more concretely, we might have measured the impact on the lower performing students.

  • Icon for: Mary Moore

    Mary Moore

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 04:39 p.m.

    Hi, Kevin – 

    We provided the teachers with a wide variety of materials to use in 2D and 3D object rotation activities (many of which are commonly used in classrooms, informal ed, and at home, such as tangrams, pentominoes, pattern blocks, KEVA planks, LEGOs, etc.). We also worked with the teachers to develop a number of perspective taking and mapping activities. None of the activities are difficult to implement, and we're currently developing an ebook containing lesson plans for all the activities used during the project (as well as the CT assessments). The free ebook will be available to any interested teachers and researchers. 

    We were looking at the effectiveness of implementing spatial activities regularly throughout the school year, not tracking the impact of any of specific activities separately, but some of the activities that teachers felt were most effective and engaging included tangrams, pattern blocks, Design Blocks, “Math-E-Motion” activities (where students receive and provide directions for moving around on a floor-size hundred grid), and mapping activities (e.g., mapping your classroom using LEGOs, and a “Treasure Hunt” using locations marked on a map of campus).

    We measured computational thinking by adapting some of the questions used in a validated assessment developed by a Spanish researcher investigating CT in middle school students (Steve or Gary can provide the reference for this). The questions we adapted were those accessible to children in grades K-2. One set of questions asked students to provide sequential directions for moving from one place to another on a grid system, similar to the sequential directions used in coding. A second set asked students to debug similar directions written for a character on a cartoonish grid. 

  • Icon for: Mark Windschitl

    Mark Windschitl

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 11:41 a.m.

    Steven, As a science educator my interest was piqued when I saw your students working with patterns and spatial organization of objects. There are many times when students' understand of science phenomena can be enhanced through the ability to reason about 2-d or 3-d arrangements. For example when I have worked with middle schoolers to understand events like solar eclipses, many of them struggle to imagine how the moon, earth, and sun are arranged, in order to produce the effect. The same was true for longitudinal "slices" of the earth that they might have to mentally rotate to understand convection in the mantle or plate tectonics. Do you imagine that some of what you learn in your current study could be applied to various domains in science that really depend on spatial reasoning?

  • Icon for: Steven Moore

    Steven Moore

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 03:25 p.m.

    Hello Mark. Thank you for your question. Many of the activities we implemented were designed to build students' perspective taking and ability to manipulate objects and scenes mentally. Accordingly, they have direct relevance to the kinds of mental manipulations needed to understand the kinds of spatial phenomena you describe. Our preliminary results show impact on assessments designed to measure such manipulations. The challenge presented in the literature, however, is whether such training transfers well to other situations (e.g., does learning to mentally manipulate cartoon scenes with a child, car, cat, mailbox, tree, etc. to interpret relationships among the objects transfer to understanding how a solar eclipse happens?). Our hope is that such transfer occurs. One benefit (and limitation) of our assessments is that we measured far transfer of skills and were able to see some impact. The literature indicates that far transfer of spatial learning is limited. So, unfortunately, more work is needed to tell whether interventions like ours at the K-5 level will benefit children in the middle grades.

  • Small default profile

    Hannah Whitmire

    Undergraduate Student
    May 15, 2018 | 10:08 a.m.

    Steve, I really enjoyed watching this video. As an educator I am always looking for new research to help better my teacher and new strategies to use. It is huge that so many skills increased in students through spatial and computational thinking activities. I am curious, are you planning to do more research at the 6-12 grade range to see if the data you collected for K-5 is transferable?

  • Icon for: Steven Moore

    Steven Moore

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 11:46 a.m.

    Hello Hannah,

    We’ve discussed tracking the students we’ve worked with to see how their computational and mathematics skills change as they progress to higher grades. However, our emphasis will be wwith younger children (TK-2) to hone in better on effective interventions and assessments. We noted a particular need at these young ages. 

  • Icon for: Megan McKinley

    Megan McKinley

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 04:43 p.m.

    Hello Steven and colleagues, thanks for sharing this great work! I’m interested in hearing more about the design and development of the spatial activities. What did this process look like and how were teachers (and/or other stakeholders) involved?

  • Icon for: Mary Moore

    Mary Moore

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 10:20 p.m.

    Hi, Megan!

    During the first year of the project, Steve and Gary met on a regular basis with K-5 teachers and administrators at two elementary schools to select, develop, and pilot test a wide variety of spatial activities, some focused on object rotation, and others on perspective taking, mapping, and embodied cognition. Familiar activities, such as copying tangram or pattern block designs, could be easily implemented by the teachers, so for those we mainly provided classroom sets of the materials. More complex and/or new activities, such as Math-e-Motion activities based on work by a Brazilian researcher (http://educ.queensu.ca/math-e-motion-embodied-a...), were developed and refined during the ongoing planning meetings and pilot tests at the schools. During the second year, bi-monthy meetings continued with the teachers at the school where we conducted the comparison group study. This allowed us to implement additional object rotation activities as well as develop a “Treasure Hunt” activity that used an aerial map of the campus created during a drone demonstration for the students. Parent volunteers were involved in testing and implementing many of the activities as well.

    If you need more info on the design and development process during the first year, Gary and Steve can provide you with that. I’ve been working with the 13 teachers at the comparison group study school to write formal lesson plans and implementation strategies for the activities used during the comparison study/second year, so we can incorporate them into an ebook that will be disseminated free of charge.

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    Xiaoxue Du

    Graduate Student
    May 19, 2018 | 01:17 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing the video and the great work! Curious if the spatial thinking and computational thinking activities can be applied to support the students in special learning needs?

  • Icon for: Steven Moore

    Steven Moore

    Lead Presenter
    May 21, 2018 | 03:20 a.m.

    Hello Xiaoxue. Feedback from our participating teachers indicated that the activities worked particularly well for special needs children. However, the impact on the students was primarily a feeling of success in an academic environment. More research is needed to see how the activities can be tailored to enhance computational thinking abilities in special needs children 

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