Spatial Development

Nora S. Newcombe

Temple University

Space is fundamental to human existence. Are we born able to apprehend it, or do we somehow learn about space as we interact with the world? This fundamental question of nativism versus empiricism has enlivened philosophical and psychological debate for centuries. In this course, we will examine various aspects of this debate through the lens of neoconstructivism. Additionally, we will discuss sex differences in some spatial skills, plasticity and spatial learning, and the translational impacts of research on spatial development on education.

Lecture 1.Conceptualizations of space and of development

download presentation

Required Readings:
  1. Huttenlocher, J., Hedges, L. V., & Duncan, S. (1991). Categories and particulars: Prototype effects in estimating spatial location. Psychological Review, 98(3), 352-376.
  2. Newcombe, N.S. (2002). The nativist-empiricist controversy in the context of recent research on spatial and quantitative development. Psychological Science, 13, 395-401.
Also recommended:
  1. Holden, M. P., Newcombe, N.S. & Shipley, T.F. (2013). Location memory in the real world: Category adjustment effects in 3-dimensional space. Cognition, 128, 45-55.

Lecture 2. . Is there a geometric module?

download presentation

Required Readings:
  1. Spelke, E. S., & Kinzler, K. D. (2007). Core knowledge. Developmental Science, 10(1), 89-96.
  2. Twyman, A.D. & Newcombe, N.S. (2010). Five reasons to doubt the existence of a geometric module. Cognitive Science, 34, 1315-1356.
Also recommended:
  1. Cheng, K., Huttenlocher, J. & Newcombe, N.S. (2013). 25 years of research on the use of geometry in spatial reorientation: A current theoretical perspective. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review.

Lecture 3. Mental rotation: Development, sex differences, plasticity

download presentation

Color

Required Readings:
  1. Halpern, D. F., Benbow, C. P., Geary, D. C., Gur, R. C., Hyde, J. S., & Gernsbache, M. A. (2007). The science of sex differences in science and mathematics. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 8(1), 1-51.
  2. Uttal, D.H., Meadow, N. G., Tipton, E., Hand, L. L. Alden, A. R., Warren, C. & Newcombe, N.S. (2013). The malleability of spatial skills: A meta-analysis of training studies. Psychological Bulletin, 139, 352-402.
Also recommended:
  1. Terlecki, M.S., Newcombe, N.S. & Little, M. (2008). Durable and generalized effects of spatial experience on mental rotation: Gender differences in growth patterns. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 22, 996-1013.

Lecture 4. Magnitude estimation, and implications for mathematics learning

download presentation

Required Readings:
  1. Newcombe, N.S. & Frick, A. (2010). Early education for spatial intelligence: Why, what and how. Mind, Brain and Education, 4, 102-111.
  2. Walsh, V. (2003). A theory of magnitude: common cortical metrics of time, space and quantity. Trends in cognitive sciences, 7(11), 483-488.
Also recommended:
  1. Siegler, R. S., Fazio, L. K., Bailey, D. H., & Zhou, X. (2013). Fractions: The new frontier for theories of numerical development. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 17(1), 13-19.

Lecture 5. Spatial learning and education in science, technology, and engineering

download presentation

Required Readings:
  1. Ainsworth, S., Prain, V., & Tytler, R. (2011). Drawing to learn in science. Science, 333(6046), 1096-1097.
  2. Newcombe, N.S. (2013). Seeing relationships: Using spatial thinking to teach science, mathematics, and social studies. American Educator. 26-31, 40.

Course requirements include:

If you are taking the course for credit, you will also:

Bio sketch

Nora S. Newcombe is Professor of Psychology and James H. Glackin Distinguished Faculty Fellow at Temple University. Her Ph.D. is from Harvard University. Her research focuses on spatial cognition and development, as well as the development of autobiographical and episodic memory. She is currently Principal Investigator of the NSF-funded Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center (SILC) and co-directs the Temple Infant and Child Laboratory (TICL) on Temple's Ambler Campus and the Research in Spatial Cognition (RISC) Lab on Main Campus. .

Dr. Newcombe is the author of numerous chapters, articles, and books, including Making Space with Janellen Huttenlocher (published by the MIT Press, 2000). Her work has been recognized by several awards, including the George A. Miller Award and the G. Stanley Hall Award. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Society of Experimental Psychologists. She has served as Editor of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General and Associate Editor of Psychological Bulletin, as well as on many grant panels and advisory boards.