Research Topics

With the University of Salzburg as a partner and consortium member, an international research project has been underway since January 2021 that aims to investigate and improve the spatial skills of elementary and secondary school students in particular. It also aims to help close the gender gap in MINT/STEM fields (MINT is short for mathematics – computer science – natural science – technology, STEM for science – technology – engineering – mathematics). The Spatially Enhanced Learning Linked to STEM (SellSTEM; project, coordinated by the Technical University of Dublin in Ireland, received € 4.12 million in funding from the Marie Skłodowska Curie Innovative Training Network under Horizon 2020, an EU 2020 flagship initiative to ensure Europe’s global competitiveness.

Research has shown that individuals with good spatial skills are much more likely to succeed and enjoy STEM subjects compared to those with less good spatial skills, making them more likely to choose studies and careers in the field. Over a four-year period, SellSTEM, a consortium of ten European universities and eight non-academic partners (such as Microsoft and SAP), will train 15 PhD students (so called Early Stage Researchers – ESR) to develop innovative and practical approaches to improving the spatial skills of elementary and secondary school-aged students in Europe so that they are better prepared to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects. Dr. Gavin Duffy from TU Dublin explains, “SellSTEM will develop methods to enhance children’s spatial skills through online learning, tactile activities, maker space workshop, project-based learning and integrated into the STEM curriculum. We will work with teachers and teacher educators to identify barriers and supports to spatial skill development so that sustainable classroom solutions can be offered to increase children’s spatial ability beyond existing levels. SellSTEM brings fresh thinking to the promotion of STEM education and careers, thereby enabling Europe to deliver on its growth and jobs agenda.” Prof. Dr. Günter Maresch from the Mathematics Education Research Group, scientist in charge of the project consortium at the University of Salzburg adds, “This will be the first large-scale study in Europe to explore the impact of spatial skills promotion on educational and career choices and their differences by age, gender and region. At the University of Salzburg, we will create new knowledge about the role of spatial skills for successful STEM teaching in elementary and secondary schools and implement the results in teacher education, among other areas.”

The members of the SellSTEM consortium are: Technological University Dublin (Ireland), Technische Universiteit Delft (Netherlands), Bangor University (UK), Norges Teknisk-Naturvitenskapelige Universitet – NTNU (Norway), Latvijas Universitāte (Latvia), Universiteit Leiden (Holland), Paris Lodron University Salzburg – PLUS (Austria), University of Regensburg, University of Koblenz-Landau and Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan – KTH (Sweden), Microsoft Ireland Operations, Stichting VHTO, SAP Service and Support Centre, Ionad Oideachais Mhuineacháin, De Galan School Voor Training, Science Hub TU Delft, Marino Institue of Technology and Stichting Waag Society.