Cake Talk: The Effect of Spatial Skills Training on our First Year Computing Students

Published: 31 January 2020

Jack Parkinson delivers the School of Computer Science's inaugural (after a lengthy hiatus) Cake Talk - optimistic, light-hearted talks to be consumed with cake - on his work with the first year cohort and spatial skills training.

Spatial skills are a set of skills related to tasks like identifying patterns, visualising objects presented in 2D and manipulating internal structures. Research has shown a relationship between spatial skills and computing, specifically identifying that people with high spatial skills have better computing grades, retention in STEM subjects and progress further in CS and wider STEM academia than their peers with lower spatial ability. Jack has delivered a pencil-and-paper spatial skills training course over five weeks of semester 1 to see if, by training spatial skills, we can improve our students’ computing outcomes. For the CS1CT students this appears to have worked, but the CS1P students tell a different story, contrary to expectations based on research and prior experience. Join us to see these results, reflect on what they could mean and discuss what directions this research could take in the future.

First published: 31 January 2020