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Understanding and Improving Students' Cognitive Navigation and Programming Abilities

Ryan Bockmon, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Spatial skills have been shown to play an import role in most STEM field. Studies have showed that students' spatial skills (primarily students' mental rotation abilities) are correlated to their programming ability and that with the use of a spatial skills intervention, focused on 3D mental rotations, students' spatial skills and programming abilities improve. It makes sense that a person’s ability to mentally rotate objects it correlated to their success in other STEM degrees, but it makes less sense why there is any connections to students’ programming abilities. In my research I aimed to further explore new spatial skills, primarily cognitive navigational abilities, and their role in computing. We did so by conducting a two-year study investigating the relationship between students’ navigational abilities and their programming abilities in multiple introductory computing courses. Our results showed that there is a correlation between students’ map reading ability and their programming ability. We also found that with the use of a map reading intervention using an augmented reality sandbox both students’ map reading skills and programming abilities increased compared to students who did not participate in the intervention.

Subject Area

Computer science|Education

Recommended Citation

Bockmon, Ryan, "Understanding and Improving Students' Cognitive Navigation and Programming Abilities" (2022). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI29161854.