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Assessing Visualization Abilities In Minority Engineering Students

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Visualization and Computer Graphics

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.232.1 - 9.232.11



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Paper Authors

author page

Nancy Study

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Assessing Visualization Abilities in Minority Engineering Students

N. E. Study

Department of Engineering, ENTC, INTC Virginia State University, Petersburg, VA 23806


The numbers of minority students in the academic areas of science and engineering (S&E) have increased significantly in recent years. Despite initial success in recruitment efforts, the numbers of these minority students not completing their studies still remain higher than that of their non-minority peers. Visualization is a significant factor in the creation of mental models and in interacting with the often abstract concepts that are important for success in S&E fields. An ongoing study recently found that a particular sample of minority engineering and technology students at a historically black university scored statistically significantly lower on the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test: Visualization of Rotations (PSVT) than did a sample of non-minority engineering students at a primarily majority serving institution. This paper discusses those PSVT pretest results and the results of the same test given as a posttest following a semester of instruction. The pretest scores of the initial sample of minority subjects are also compared to another group of minority subjects who took the same course in a following semester. Factors potentially affecting the success and preparation level of the subjects are also addressed including previous academic achievement, scores on standardized tests, and entry requirements of the different institutions the subjects attend.


In recent years, there has been considerable effort put into increasing the numbers of minorities in the academic fields of engineering, science, and technology. Despite the increased recruitment efforts, and the larger numbers of minorities actually beginning studies in the fields of engineering, science, and technology, the numbers of minorities in these fields not completing their studies remains at a higher rate than those of the non-minority population. The overall national average college graduation rate for black students is 38 percent, compared to 60 percent for white students and the graduation rate at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) is even lower than that with more than two thirds of entering freshman not going on to earn degrees [1].

Spatial visualization ability has been linked with academic success in the S&E fields and can be an important factor for success in the creation of mental models and in interacting with abstract concepts. The minority subjects in this study had significantly lower visualization abilities than did their non-minority counterparts. Although some research has shown declines in

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Study, N. (2004, June), Assessing Visualization Abilities In Minority Engineering Students Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13569

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