Strategies Applied by Pre-service Elementary School Mathematics Teachers for Coping with Tasks that Require a Mental Rotation
Despite the plethora of research in the field of mental rotation, researchers are still divided over a range of related issues, particularly the processes involved in coping with mental rotation tasks. This field of research, for the most part, is descriptive rather than interpretative, leading to the absence of a theoretical framework to enable the development of a coherent dedicated training program. Against this background, the present study is underpinned by the assumption that identifying relations between strategies that potentially lead to a successful coping with mental rotation tasks and those that do not lead to success might help us in designing a dedicated training program for pre-service teachers. The study involved 122 pre-service elementary school mathematics teachers. They responded to a questionnaire that included, among others, two tasks that required performing mental rotation. In line with other studies, the results of the present study indicate that there is an advantage to implementing a holistic strategy over an analytic one. However, the mere implementation of a certain strategy does not guarantee that one would draw a correct conclusion, as the same strategy might lead to either correct or incorrect conclusion. Based on these results, we inferred that there is a mechanism that mediates between the strategy employed and the conclusion reached. Apparently, in the context of mental rotation, the study of strategies does not allow understanding the essence of this mechanism, and in order to construct an interpretative theory, an alternative course of inquiry is needed.
KeywordsAnalytic strategy Holistic strategy Mental rotation Spatial ability STEM education
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