Developing Spatial Reasoning Skills: The Effects of Socialized Block Play

Allison Boyle, Pace University


Spatial reasoning ability underlies the development of important cognitive, academic, and social abilities. Developmental stage, gender, culture, and socioeconomic status have also been shown to influence how readily an individual can acquire and maintain their spatial reasoning ability. While many interventions have been developed to improve spatial visualization and mental rotation, these interventions have shown potential negative consequences and are not necessarily tailored specifically to young children. Block play interventions have traditionally helped children develop these spatial reasoning abilities. Likewise, socialized play has shown to improve a child's functioning across social and cognitive domains but has been relatively understudied in relation to spatial development. The current study examined if children who engage in more socialized block play improved their spatial reasoning ability over time. Additionally, this study examined if gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status affected a child's improvement in spatial reasoning over time. Preschool children were administered the Spatial Transformation Task before and after an 8 week block play intervention. Video data from each play session was coded for engagement in solitary, dyadic, group play as well as off-task behavior. It was determined that children who engage in more solitary play showed slight improvement in their spatial ability over time. Additionally, off-task behavior negatively predicated spatial skill outcomes. Neither dyadic nor group social block play significantly improved spatial reasoning. Gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status were not related to spatial skill outcomes. This indicates that solitary play is more predictive of improving spatial outcomes overall when compared to socialized block play.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Boyle, Allison, "Developing Spatial Reasoning Skills: The Effects of Socialized Block Play" (2017). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI10666058.



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