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A New And Improved Course For Developing Spatial Visualization Skills

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.66.1 - 6.66.7



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Paper Authors

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Sheryl Sorby

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Instructors of design graphics courses frequently note a wide range of spatial visualization abili- ties among freshman engineering majors. Test score distributions in design graphics courses are often bi-modal, with a cluster of grades occurring at the high end of the grading scale and a sec- ond cluster occurring at the low end. This bi-modality is likely due to the weak visualization skills demonstrated by many freshmen engineering students, particularly women. A course to improve spatial visualization skills of first-year engineering students has been offered at Michigan Tech since 1993. The original model for improving spatial visualization skills adopted at Michigan Tech included a 3-credit (quarter system) course. The assessment results from this course have been very positive and have been presented in regional, national, and international venues. Although the approach employed at Michigan Tech has resulted in positive improvements in spa- tial skills, graphics grades, and retention, many engineering schools have been reluctant to adopt these methodologies due to time/resource limitations. Recently, two factors converged at Michi- gan Tech that resulted in a significantly different introductory course for developing spatial skills. These factors were: 1) the development of multimedia software and a workbook as stand-alone products for spatial skills remediation, and 2) the conversion to semesters at Michigan Tech. This paper describes the “new and improved” spatial visualization course for semesters at Michigan Tech and presents results obtained from its first offering in the fall 2000 semester. Results and resource requirements from this new course will be compared and contrasted with those obtained from the original version of the spatial skills course.

Sorby, S. (2001, June), A New And Improved Course For Developing Spatial Visualization Skills Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9600

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