Women tend not to choose STEM degrees, for a number of reasons associated with aptitudes, motivation and experience with certain spatial tasks such as mental rotation. This study considered an unexplored experiential factor: childhood preference for spatial toys and sports. It was predicted that the higher the preference for spatial activities in childhood, the higher the mental rotation performance and intrinsic motivation, and likewise the greater the probability of choosing a STEM degree. One hundred seventy-six Italian and German students attending the first year of either a STEM (n=90) or a no STEM (n=86) degree filled in the Mental Rotation Test, a self-report to assess intrinsic motivation, and two questionnaires to assess their actual practice with spatial sports and their childhood preference for either spatial or non-spatial toys and sports. The results showed that women in STEM degrees preferred spatial toys more than women in non-STEM degrees and performed better in mental rotation when preferred spatial toys in childhood. The discussion focuses on the relationship between childhood toy preferences and the choice of a STEM degree.

Childhood preference for spatial toys. Gender differences and relationships with mental rotation in STEM and non-STEM students

Angelica Moè;
2018

Abstract

Women tend not to choose STEM degrees, for a number of reasons associated with aptitudes, motivation and experience with certain spatial tasks such as mental rotation. This study considered an unexplored experiential factor: childhood preference for spatial toys and sports. It was predicted that the higher the preference for spatial activities in childhood, the higher the mental rotation performance and intrinsic motivation, and likewise the greater the probability of choosing a STEM degree. One hundred seventy-six Italian and German students attending the first year of either a STEM (n=90) or a no STEM (n=86) degree filled in the Mental Rotation Test, a self-report to assess intrinsic motivation, and two questionnaires to assess their actual practice with spatial sports and their childhood preference for either spatial or non-spatial toys and sports. The results showed that women in STEM degrees preferred spatial toys more than women in non-STEM degrees and performed better in mental rotation when preferred spatial toys in childhood. The discussion focuses on the relationship between childhood toy preferences and the choice of a STEM degree.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11577/3283060
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