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Assessment of Students’ Changed Spatial Ability Using Two Different Curriculum Approaches; Technical Drawing Compared to Innovative Product Design

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Spatial Ability & Visualization Training II

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.215.1 - 24.215.9

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Paper Authors


Mark E. Snyder Illinois Institute of Technology

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Architectural Engineering Faculty at IIT. Creating and testing innovative classroom pedagogy for the last 10 years. Evaluating the link between visualization and improved abstraction skills to specific classroom activities. Investigating the connection between ethical judgement and academic motivation to improve the learning environment.

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Matthew Spenko Illinois Institute of Technology

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Assessment of Students’ Changed Spatial Ability Using Two Different Curriculum Approaches; Technical Drawing Compared to Innovative Product DesignA number of studies have demonstrated that improving students’ spatial ability is a pathway toimproving students’ abstraction skills in areas of science and mathematics. Curriculums thatimprove abstraction skills may be a key approach to improving students’ success in college-levelacademic tasks.The principle curriculums tested to determine the “best” approach to improving spatial abilityhas been technical drawing using pencil, paper and instruments and computer aided designprograms. Studies seem to give the edge on improving spatial ability to technical drawing versusdirectly moving students into computer aided design programs without technical drawingbackground. Yet, these studies do not provide an exploration of the effect of other curriculumapproaches that incorporate computer aided design as a vehicle to affect student spatial ability.This research project compared a traditional technical drawing curriculum to a curriculum that isfocused on product design and development in what could be called a more real-worldentrepreneurial environment. The product design class used some hand drawing but was focusedprincipally on using computer aided drawing to construct three-dimensional prototypes thatrepresented improvements in several common devices used by people.The Purdue Visualization of Rotations Test (PVRT) was given to students prior to the start ofclass and after completion of the courses so each individual student’s change could be followedand analyzed using statistical methods.Statistical analysis indicated that the technical drawing class had a statistically significant changefrom pre to post testing but the product design class did not have any significant change.Analysis of improved versus decreased scores on pre and post test of the PVRT showed bothgroups had the same number of students with decreased or increased scores. Comparing thepercentage increase in improved PVRT scores showed the technical drawing group had a doublethe percentage improvement in PVRT scores compared to the product development group.The study concludes that technical drawing has curriculum aspects that directly improve PVRTscores to a greater degree than a principle focus on computer aided design despite a real-worldapplication approach.

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