Young pupils and visual-spatial ability/intelligence

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Jim Newcomb


At Key Stage 1, the programme of study for Design
and Technology in the National Curriculum in Wales, in
relation to ‘Designing Skills’ (ACCAC, 2000:8), simply
states that, ‘Pupils should be taught to record their
ideas, e.g. using words, pictures, sketches and ICT.’
This paper provides details of a small scale study
centred on the extent to which infant children, as
guided learners, are able to utilise a more formalised
drawing strategy (orthographic projection) as a means
of generating, communicating and recording ideas,
thereby supporting young children’s ability to visualise
objects, or parts of an object from different
perspectives, in an appropriately realistic manner. A
key rationale for the study was that of identifying
‘relatively exceptional performance’, in respect of
visual-spatial awareness; that is, a recognition of
children who display an aptitude for depicting objects
(in this case design ideas) by way of utilising
appropriate graphical representations/viewpoints as a
means of achieving greater ‘visual realism’. Here,
realism is seen to be reflected by the children’s
recognition and representation of how their product is
to function: a vehicle carrying a chocolate cream egg
securely, while it runs down a slope, along their
classroom floor and through a finishing line (details
below). The study attempts to shed some light on this
issue by comparing output from what are termed
‘free’ and ‘taught/guided’ drawings. Initial results
suggest that, with guidance, young children generally
depict design ideas with a sharper focus on elements
relevant to the desired functioning of their product,
including a move away from what I have termed,
‘personal contextualisation’: the desire to include
components that, whilst indicative of young children’s
personal experiences, have limited practical bearing in
terms of that which will eventually be manufactured.

Article Details

How to Cite
NEWCOMB, Jim. Young pupils and visual-spatial ability/intelligence. Design and Technology Education: an International Journal, [S.l.], v. 12, n. 1, may 2008. ISSN 1360-1431. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 25 jan. 2022.
Visual-spatial ability/intelligence ; Relatively exceptional performance ; Orthographic projection ; Occlusion ; Visual realism ; Personal contextualisation