An information processing approach to study individual differences in spatial ability and mathematics achievement
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The main objective of this dissertation is two-fold: to propose a theoretical model that explains how gender differences in performance on spatial ability tasks may be understood as a function of the relative strength of two working memory components, visuospatial working memory and verbal working memory, and strategy use; to empirically test the relationships among all working memory components (visuospatial working memory, verbal working memory, and executive functioning), mental rotation spatial ability, and mathematics achievement. This objective was accomplished in the two papers included in this dissertation. The first paper is a theoretical paper that culminated in a proposed model that illustrated the psychological mechanism underlying gender differences in performance on spatial ability tasks. The second paper reported an empirical study that utilized structural equation modeling to explore the connection between mental rotation spatial ability and mathematics achievement through the lens of information processing theory.