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Work in progress - development of tools to improve the spatial ability of engineering students

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3 Author(s)
Towle, E. ; Dept. of Mech. Eng., New Hampshire Univ., Durham, NH ; Mann, J. ; Kinsey, B.

One component of spatial ability is the ability to correctly visualize a three dimensional object when it is represented in two dimensional space. Research has shown that spatial ability is positively correlated with retention and performance of students in disciplines which rely heavily on spatial reasoning (e.g. chemistry, engineering, etc.) and that males typically outperform females on standard spatial ability tests. In addition, research has shown that spatial ability can be improved through training, such as that received in a computer aided design (CAD) course or by focused spatial training. However, which type of training provides the most beneficial improvements to spatial ability is not well known and whether other means to improve spatial ability would be more effective. In this research project, two tools to use in spatial ability training are being developed. One tool, a physical model rotator (PMR), rotates a physical model of an object in synchronous motion with a model of the same object in CAD software. The other training tool, the alternative view screen (AVS), provides the user of CAD software with both a solid model (including shading) and a line version view of the object. Students with poor spatial ability were identified through testing and the effects of training with these two tools were assessed

Published in:

Frontiers in Education, 2005. FIE '05. Proceedings 35th Annual Conference

Date of Conference:

19-22 Oct. 2005