Journal of Educational Research and Practice




Undergraduate calculus is a foundational mathematics sequence that previews the sophistication students will need to succeed in higher-level courses. However, students often struggle with concepts in calculus because they are more abstract and visual than those in other foundational mathematics courses. Additionally, women continue to be underrepresented in the STEM fields. This study builds on previous work indicating a malleability in spatial ability by testing whether improvement occurs in students’ spatial and mathematics ability after implementing spatial training in calculus courses. The researchers also measured associations between spatial training and self-reported cognitive style. While spatial training did not significantly improve calculus and spatial skills, the researchers measured impacts on the psychological correlate of cognitive learning style. This is important as non-spatial cognitive preferences can result in students not recognizing the dynamic information encapsulated in graphical images, which is a large component of calculus. These results may have practical implications for teaching calculus at the undergraduate level and may, with further research, help to narrow the gender gap in the STEM fields.