Spatial Reasoning: A Critical Problem-Solving Tool in Children’s Mathematics Strategy Tool-Kit

  • Beth M. CaseyEmail author
  • Harriet Fell
Part of the Research in Mathematics Education book series (RME)


This chapter reviews the spatial literature from the perspective of potential mechanisms for widening the range of spatially-based strategies available when solving math problems. We propose that teaching generalized spatial skills, disconnected from specific math content, may not be the best direction to go in future spatial interventions. Students who do not start out with strong spatial skills may need to learn to develop different types of “spatial sense” specific to each content area. Thus, acquiring and applying spatial strategies may depend in part on developing spatial sense within these specific math domains. In this chapter, we present an overview of evidence for different types of spatial sense that may serve as a prerequisite for effectively applying spatial strategies within these math content areas. The chapter also provides examples of math activities designed to help children acquire spatial sense and apply spatial strategies when solving diverse types of math problems.


Spatial skills Math achievement Math strategies Decomposition Visualization Elementary school Fractions Geometry Arithmetic Mapping Word problems Gender differences 2- and 3-dimensional representations Mental images Spatial sense Image generation Surfaces Solids Common Core Math Standards Numerical concepts 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lynch School of EducationBoston CollegeBostonUSA
  2. 2.College of Computer and Information ScienceNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA

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