Spatial Skills and Demographic Factors in CS1

Ly, A., Parkinson, J. , Cutts, Q. , Liut, M. and Petersen, A. (2021) Spatial Skills and Demographic Factors in CS1. In: Koli Calling '21: 21st Koli Calling International Conference on Computing Education Research, 18 - 21 November 2021, Article No.: 4. ISBN 9781450384889 (doi: 10.1145/3488042.3488049)

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Motivation Prior studies have established that training spatial skills may improve outcomes in computing courses. Very few of these studies have, however, explored the impact of spatial skills training on women or examined its relationship with other factors commonly explored in the context of academic performance, such as socioeconomic background and self-efficacy. Objectives In this study, we report on a spatial skills intervention deployed in a computer programming course (CS1) in the first year of a post-secondary program. We explore the relationship between various demographic factors, course performance, and spatial skills ability at both the beginning and end of the term. Methods Data was collected using a combination of demographic surveys, existing self-efficacy and CS1 content instruments, and the Revised PVST:R spatial skills assessment. Spatial skills were evaluated both at the beginning of the term and at the end, after spatial skills training was provided. Results While little evidence was found to link spatial skills to socioeconomic status or self-efficacy, both gender identity and previous experience in computing were found to be correlated to spatial skills ability at the start of the course. Women initially recorded lower spatial skills ability, but after training, the distribution of spatial skills scores for women approached that of men. Discussion These findings suggest that, if offered early enough, spatial skills training may be able to remedy some differences in background that impact performance in computing courses.

Item Type:Conference Proceedings
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Parkinson, Mr Jack and Cutts, Professor Quintin
Authors: Ly, A., Parkinson, J., Cutts, Q., Liut, M., and Petersen, A.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Computing Science
Journal Name:21st Koli Calling International Conference on Computing Education Research
Published Online:18 November 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © The Author(s) 2021
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy
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