About SRSG

What is “spatial reasoning”?
Spatial reasoning (or spatial ability, spatial intelligence, or spatiality) refers to the ability to recognize and (mentally) manipulate the spatial properties of objects and the spatial relations among objects. Examples of spatial reasoning include: locating, orienting, decomposing/recomposing, balancing, diagramming, seeing symmetry, navigating, comparing, scaling, and visualizing. An extended list of these elements of spatial reasoning is presented in the image below.

(source: Davis & the SRSG, 2015)

Why should we care about spatial reasoning?

We could cite many reasons, but here are our top four:

  1. Over the past several decades, spatial reasoning skills have been demonstrated to be strong predictors of future success in careers associated with scientific research, technological development, engineering, and mathematics – that is, the STEM disciplines.
  2. Spatial reasoning skills have been linked to academic success across school disciplines, and not just those related to mathematics and science. These skills are important across the humanities, the arts, and physical education as well.
  3. Other, broader cultural trends have helped to underscore the need for paying more attention to the topic of spatial reasoning. For example, as society has become more information dense, the interfaces to organize and access that information have become less and less alphanumeric and more and more visuospatial.
  4. There’s been a great deal of research into spatial reasoning across many domains. Among the important findings is the fact that that spatial reasoning is highly malleable. It can be learned, developed, and augmented … which also means that it can atrophy if not supported and challenged.

Why the SRSG?
Given the points presented above, one might thing that spatial reasoning would be a major topic of discussion among policy makers and curriculum developers in education. But it isn’t. In fact, even though it’s the focus of much research in many domains, there is very little “cross-talk” among those involved in that research, whether between disciplines or across educational levels.

The SRSG came together to address this and related issues – that is, in the recognition of the importance of spatial reasoning, an appreciation of its malleability, and the noticing of a lack of interdisciplinary dialogue.

The SRSG is a transdisciplinary team that engages in collaborative research on the philosophy, psychology, and pedagogy of spatial reasoning. Its members work in and across mathematics education, mathematics, psychology, curriculum studies, and cognitive science. We endeavor to improve education in its many aspects by catalyzing the spatial insights of diverse fields into educational knowledge and practice. The Group has met regularly since 2012. Its work was initially made possible through the support of the Imperial Oil Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Initiative, which is housed in the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary.