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Blending a Spatial Skills Intervention into a Mainstream Technology Teacher Education Degree Program

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Visualization Within Engineering Design Graphics Education Session 1

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.286.1 - 26.286.14



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Paper Authors


Diarmaid Lane University of Limerick

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Dr. Lane is a Lecturer in Technology Teacher Education at the University of Limerick. His research interests are in the areas of freehand sketching, cognition and spatial visualization. He is currently Director of Membership of the Engineering Design Graphics Division (EDGD).

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Sheryl A. Sorby Ohio State University

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Dr. Sheryl Sorby is currently a Professor of STEM Education at The Ohio State University and was recently a Fulbright Scholar at the Dublin Institute of Technology in Dublin, Ireland. She is a professor emerita of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Technological University and the PI or coPI on more than $9M in grant funding, most for educational projects. She is the former Associate Dean for Academic Programs in the College of Engineering at Michigan Tech and she served at the National Science Foundataion as a Program Director in the Division of Undrgraduate Education from January 2007 through August 2009. Prior to her appointment as Associate Dean, Dr. Sorby served as chair of the Engineering Fundamentals Department at Michigan Tech. In this capacity, she was responsible for the development and delivery of the newly adopted First Year Engineering Program at Michigan Tech. She received a BS in Civil Engineering, an MS in Engineering Mechanics, and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, all from Michigan Tech. Dr. Sorby has a well-established research program in spatial visualization and is actively involved in the development of various educational programs.

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Developing Spatial Skills across Multiple DisciplinesThe ability to manipulate and synthesize visual mental imagery is an important skill acrossmany disciplines, not just engineering. However, the engineering design graphics disciplineis perhaps somewhat undervalued in how it can help inform the development of spatial skillsin diverse disciplines such as science, humanities, and business.The research presented in this paper relates to the implementation of a spatial thinking coursein a multi-disciplinary pre-degree program at _______________. The pre-degree program isoffered to non-traditional students who wish to develop or refresh key learning skills, and toundertake foundation level academic studies prior to applying directly for a mainstreamdegree program. Students who take the program typically have low levels of previouseducation and come from disadvantaged backgrounds.Twenty-three students on the pre-degree program volunteered to take the optional spatialskills course. The students were specializing in different disciplines including; engineering,humanities, business, and science. The spatial skills course took place for two hours perweek over a ten week period. The Purdue Spatial Visualization Test of Rotations (PSVT:R)was administered to all participants at the start and end of the ten week course. Qualitativeresearch methods including surveys, interviews and observational protocols were utilized inorder to capture the participants’ learning experience.Significant gains in students’ spatial scores at the end of the study are discussed withparticular focus centering on the rich qualitative data gathered through the various appliedresearch methods. One of the most notable findings in the study details how students valuedtheir learning experience with rich accounts of how the intervention impacted on their studiesand daily lives. The paper concludes by discussing the implications for future research inengineering design graphics and its potential role in informing the design of curricula forother disciplines.

Lane, D., & Sorby, S. A. (2015, June), Blending a Spatial Skills Intervention into a Mainstream Technology Teacher Education Degree Program Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23625

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