What Is Spatial Recognition?

Young couple looking at map together.
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According to Johns Hopkins University, spatial ability and recognition is "the capacity to understand and remember the spatial relations among objects." This includes the ability to mentally generate and transform images -- a skill that is more naturally occurring in males than females. You have a number of effective ways to develop greater spatial recognition skills.

Importance of Spatial Recognition

Spatial recognition is used in everyday activities, including simple tasks like finding the way home from work or deciding what size box is needed to contain a particular object. Spatial recognition is used when you look in a mirror and discern which side of the image correlates with the right side and which with the left. When orienting to a new office or apartment building, spatial recognition skills keep people from getting lost.

Spatial Recognition in the Classroom

Teaching spatial recognition can help students develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Some exercises for developing spatial skills in the classroom include placing a large map in the room and having students identify locations on the map, particularly those mentioned in songs, reading assignments and other classroom lessons. Students can also learn spatial skills by identifying distances between landmarks in their community -- the distance between the gas station and grocery store, for example.

Identifying Spatial Recognition

Testing for spatial ability may include exercises in which the participant is asked to rotate different images in his mind. A study called Project Talent revealed that students who enjoy working with their hands, including building and repairing objects, are often naturally skilled at spatial recognition. Strong verbal and quantitative ability is not always indicative of strong spatial abilities. Testing special skills can reveal the likelihood that a student is predisposed to a career in technology, engineering or mathematics.

Careers Incorporating Spatial Recognition

People with strong spatial-recognition skills excel in fields such as mathematics, computer science, technology and engineering. Any career that requires a person to visualize abstract data, such as in designing a building, or understand the meaning of correlating images, such as a medical technician interpreting an X-ray, can benefit from having strongly developed spatial-awareness skills. A recent Vanderbilt University study showed that students with this skill can become creative innovators in the STEM -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- fields.

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