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10 Minute Labs: A Case Study in Teaching Spatial Visualization Strategies with Minimal Instruction

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Middle Atlantic ASEE Section Spring 2021 Conference



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April 9, 2021

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April 9, 2021

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April 10, 2021

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Edward Z Moore Central Connecticut State University

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Edward Z. Moore received a B.Eng and M.Eng. both in Mechanical Engineering from McGill University where he worked on the solar car as an undergraduate and in the Ambulatory Robotics Lab as a graduate student. He earned a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Connecticut for his work in structural damage detection in naval vessels. He was appointed to the faculty in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Central Connecticut in 2011, where he is currently an Associate Professor. His research interests are in applying additive manufacturing processes to the production of tooling and the application of machine learning techniques to graduate admissions.

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It has been recognized for years that many students could benefit from remedial instruction in spatial visualization techniques [1,2]. At Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) however, we have found it difficult to incorporate these topics in our required course because of constraints on time and technology access, and because many students do not require it. At CCSU, student participation in a voluntary online screening test paired with ten-hour non-credit seminars has been disappointing, with only a small fraction of students deemed eligible for the seminars electing to participate. This past fall students (n = 19) in a section of our Introduction to Engineering course (ENGR 150), which includes students from multiple engineering disciplines including civil, electrical, computer, manufacturing, and mechanical, were screened for weakness in spatial visualization using the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test: Rotations (PSVT:R) [3]. Those students in need of remediation (n=12, 63% of cohort) were given instruction inside break-out sessions during regular class time over the course of ten class meetings. The students who demonstrated mastery of spatial visualization techniques (n=8) were given alternative assignments. The breakout sessions lasted less than ten minutes, resulting in total direct instruction time of less than 100 minutes. There were no additional in-class or group exercises required of the students, and as the course was taught entirely online, students did not have access to physical models to aid their understanding. Students were assigned spatial visualization problems as optional enrichment. These problems were graded, and students were given the opportunity to do new problems as many times as they wished to raise their score, but this work was not factored into their final course grade. Testing done at the conclusion of term showed significant improvement by students who received the intervention despite the extreme brevity of instruction. On a scale of 0-30, which 20 being considered a passing grade, students averaged a score of 18.4 on the pretest and 22.9 on the post test. The magnitude of improvement was found to be statistically significant using a two-sample t-test with a one-sided distribution at levels of α=0.95,with p=0.001. These results are qualitatively similar to the improvements seen in previous research which included the use more extensive instructional tools [4]. References 1. Rafaelli, L., S.A. Sorby, and K. Hungwe, Developing 3D Spatial Skills for K-12 Students. Engineering Design Graphics Journal, 2014. 70(3). 2 Johnson, J.F., et al., Validity of Spatial Ability Tests for Selection into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Career Fields: The Example of Military Aviation, in Visual-spatial Ability in STEM Education. 2017, Springer. p. 11-34. 3. Guay, R. B. 1976. Purdue Spatial Visualization Test: Rotations. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue Research Foundation. 4.4. Metz, Jarosewich, Sorby, Spatial Skills Training Impacts Retention of Engineering Students – Does This Success Translate to Community College Students in Technical Education?, ASEE, 2017.

Moore, E. Z. (2021, April), 10 Minute Labs: A Case Study in Teaching Spatial Visualization Strategies with Minimal Instruction Paper presented at Middle Atlantic ASEE Section Spring 2021 Conference, Virtual .

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