An Inter-Disciplinary Approach for Spatial Skill Development: Supporting First-Year Students in Working with Spatial Information


The Initative Team

Initiative Lead
University of Limerick

Primary Contact
Dr Diarmaid Lane

Initiative Budget


Initiative Type


Numerous research studies have highlighted that young adolescents across the globe often struggle when learning with visual information that includes spatial data. In an increasingly visual world spatial data is now embedded across disparate disciplines including; STEM, Architecture, Business, Geography, and Medicine among others. Both 2-D and 3-D spatial data can be found in drawings, diagrams, flowcharts, graphs, x-rays, scans and other computer models.

In recent years, researchers have found a significant positive correlation between spatial skills and overall success at third level. Despite being ranked highly in international metrics of literacy such as PISA, Irish students consistently underperform in aspects relating to ‘Space and Shape’. Research has found that spatial skills can be improved significantly through appropriate intervention and this can have a significant impact on retention in first year of university. Furthermore, studies have also found that more female than male students require and benefit from this support especially in the STEM disciplines.

Under this T&L initiative, we will conduct an inter-disciplinary scoping study across different faculties at UL to develop an evidence based intervention to support students who have under-developed spatial skills on matriculation.

This intervention will have potential to transform the students learning experience, develop the skills for their future professional and personal lives, while also improving retention rates and overall academic performance.