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Improving the Spatial Abilities of Elementary Students using

Dela Cruz, Paul Marco Cruz, Ricky
Domincil, Aran Jose University of the Philippines, Diliman
Hifarva, Arra Dianne
Villapando, Re’ Angelina
University of the Philippines, Diliman

The objective of the researchers is to investigate whether students who participate in an

origami art class will improve their spatial ability. Quasi experimental pretest/posttest design
was used. A control group of 2 students from grade 4 were part of the drawing art class,
whereas an experimental group of 3 students also from grade 4 were part of the origami art
class for three days. The Wechsler Intelligence Scale was used to measure the students’
spatial ability. It consisted of four main indices but the researchers only used one of the four,
which was the perceptual reasoning index. Under this index, the block design test was
performed. Descriptive statistics was used to analyze the data. Results show that the students’
spatial ability posttest mean scores became lower compared to the pretest mean scores.

Origami is an ancient art of folding paper from Japan that started because of how the
Japanese Elite (Samurai’s) in the 16th Century used to fold paper as gifts for special
occasions and religious practices. In the 19th Century, the Japanese government instituted
the teaching of Origami in kindergarten and primary schools all over Japan (1). Present
Japan has continued this practice and most adult Japanese can still remember at least one
Origami the “Orizuru” or crane.

Origami develops the kinesthetic skills of young children by learning how to fold paper
that improves their dexterity, eye and hand coordination. It also helps develop ones
memory, mental concentration, spatial skills, math reasoning and creativity.
Spatial ability is the capacity to understand and remember the spatial relations among
objects. This ability can be viewed as a unique type of intelligence distinguishable from
other forms of intelligence, such as verbal ability, reasoning ability, and memory skills (2).

In the theory of Multi Intelligence of Howard Gardner or M.I. Theory one of the 8
Intelligence is Spatial-Visual (3) and how important it is to improve the problem solving
skill in learning and daily life. Spatial intelligence is used everyday such as looking at
maps, searching for ones keys, picking up bags and even in various careers in the field of
mathematics, natural sciences, engineering, economic forecasting, meteorology and
architecture all involve the use of spatial skills (2). Thus, improving and developing spatial
skills are important.

Related Studies
Most of the studies available are about Origami and its contribution to the development of
ones spatial abilities in Mathematics and Geometry and not much studies have been done
on its contribution through Art education.
In the study of Arici and Aslan-tutak (2013) they were able to prove that origami-based
instruction significantly enhanced participants’ spatial visualization, geometry
achievement, and geometric reasoning (4).

Another study by Boakes (2009) with Middle school mathematics, established that
Origami lessons integrated into a traditionally instructed geometry unit would impact
students’ spatial visualization and overall geometry knowledge (5).

The study on Preservice teachers by Akayuure, P., Asiedu-Addo, S. K., & Alebna, V.
(2016) confirms their hypothesis that origami instruction is superior in terms of spatial
ability and geometric knowledge on shape and space (6).

The researchers would like to find out if conducting an origami art class to children will
improve their spatial ability. The research question is: Do students who participated in an
Origami art class compared to students who participated in a drawing art class show
positive gains in ability in terms of spatial visualization? Can origami help improve their
spatial abilities?

Research design. Quasi experimental pretest postest design was used. Two groups were
created, namely the control and experimental group.
Sample. Five students ages 8-10 years old from a school in Laguna were part of the
sample. Two of them were assigned as the control, while the remaining three comprise the
experimental group.
Data Collection. Pretest and posttest was conducted using the Wechsler Intelligence
Scale for Childeren (WISC) by David Wechsler. He believed that intelligence has a global
quality that mirrors various measurable skills. The test consists of four main indices which
are verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, working memory, and processing speed.
There are a number of measures for each index. The researchers used the perceptual
reasoning index to measure the subjects’ non-verbal and fluid reasoning through the Block
Design Test.
The Block Design test includes nine red and white square blocks and cards showing
different color designs that can be formed using the blocks. The subject must be able to
arrange the blocks in such a way that they match the design shown by the researcher. The
subject is scored based on accuracy and speed (8).
Both control and experimental group underwent the pretest and posttest. They were
asked to do six designs for pretest, and 5 designs for posttest.
Data Analysis. Descriptive statistics was used to analyse the quantitative data.
Experimental Intervention. After taking the pretest, the participants were divided into
two groups, the controlled and the experimental group. The groupings were based on the
participants’ age and test scores. The control group was taught different techniques in pencil
drawing such as drawing cross hatch, using the pencil lead to make different textures and
combining different shapes to form figures over the course of three days. On the other hand,
the experimental group was taught how to make origami frogs, butterfly, star, heart and crane
also done over the course of three days. After the lessons, the participants took the posttest.

Descriptive statistics was used to analyse the collected data. Table 1 below shows the raw
score of the control group, while Table 2 shows the raw score of the experimental group.
Table 1 Pretest and posttest raw score of the control group
studen Pretes posttest
t t
A 12 2
B 18 2
Table 2 Pretest and posttest raw score of the experimental group
studen Pretes posttest
t t
C 6 2
D 6 1
E 8 2
Table 3 Descriptive statistics of the control group (pretest)
n Mea Median Mod Sd
n e
3 6.67 6 6 1.154
Table 4 Descriptive statistics of the control group (posttest)
n Mea Median Mod Sd
n e
3 1.67 2 2 0.577
Table 5 Descriptive statistics of the experimental group (pretest)
n Mea Median Mod Sd
n e
2 15 15 None 4.243
Table 6 Descriptive statistics of the experimental group (posttest)
n Mea Median Mod Sd
n e
2 2 2 2 0

Comparing tables 1 and 2, it is evident that the raw scores for both pretest and
posttest of the two groups greatly decreased. The same trend is seen when the mean
scores for tables 3 and 4; tables 5 and 6 are compared.

There are no conclusive evidences in the experiment that supported that origami improves
the spatial abilities of children. The scores of both groups for the pretest and posttest were
quite low which could have been due to a number of uncontrolled limitations of the study.
Below are the limitations which could have influenced the results of the experiment.

● The limited number of participants. The study only had 5 participants, 2 comprise
the control, while the remaining 3 comprise the experimental group. A bigger
number of participants would have been more beneficial to the experiment. Due to
the small number of participants the dependent t test or even the Wilcoxon signed
rank test cannot be employed. Thus the researchers were limited to just use
descriptive statistics to analyse the data.
● The gender of the students were all female. “In a study of sex differences in
navigation strategy and geographic knowledge, 90 men and 104 women completed
cognitive spatial tests, gave directions from local maps, and identified places on a
world map. On the spatial tests, men were better than women in mental rotation
skill, but men and women were similar in object location memory” (Dabbs, et al.
● The duration of the experiment was too short. Only 3 days were allotted for the
experiment. The posttest was administered right after the third origami art class.
Students should have been given ample time to absorb the process.
● The instruments and questions given to the students were not tested prior to its
implementation. A couple of students’ feedback was the posttest was too difficult.

The researchers recommend to have at least 30 participants in the study. Duration of the
experiment must be at least one month. Researches claim that origami improves spatial
ability but this research has seen otherwise. Below are the observations during the
experiment which could be used as a jump off to further studies on the effects and benefits
of origami.
● The participants were able to enhance their procedural skill in Origami because of
the deliberate step by step method to accomplish an Origami Figure. Procedural skills
can help students develop habits that can contribute in faster learning.
● Origami can improve memory. It was evident during the experiment that the
participants were able to recall from memory the origami figure taught to them the
day before.
● Leadership and teaching skill were also observe when the participants did Origami
as a group. The participants helped and taught each other the procedure they
remembered to their peers. The development of teaching skills would equate to some
level of mastery of a subject and the skill to transfer that skill to others is important
for deeper learning.
● Development of confidence when accomplishing an Origami figure. The participants
first expressed their hesitation when presented with the Origami figure to be made
but after teaching them the procedure and doing them on their own, their excitement
and enthusiasm heightened. the students could not wait to do another figure. This
confidence in accomplishing things that seemed to be difficult at first is a good trait
to develop in learning.

1. Hook, N., & Paul, K. (n.d.). Beyond the Fold: The Math, History, and Technology behind Origami.
Beyond the Fold: The Math, History, and Technology behind Origami.
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3. Gardner, H. (2011). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: BasicBooks.
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Visualization, Geometry Achievement, And Geometric Reasoning. International Journal of Science
and Mathematics Education, 13(1), 179-200. doi:10.1007/s10763-013-9487-8
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Impact on Spatial Visualization and Geometry Knowledge of Students. RMLE Online, 32(7), 1-12.
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