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Coordinate Axes And Mental Rotation Tasks: A Dual Coding Approach

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.168.1 - 3.168.6



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Theodore Branoff

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

Session 1248

Coordinate Axes and Mental Rotation Tasks: A Dual-Coding Approach Ted Branoff North Carolina State University

Abstract During the 1997 Fall semester at North Carolina State University, a study was conducted to determine the effectiveness of adding coordinate axes to a mental rotations task. Eighty-one undergraduate students enrolled in introductory graphic communications courses completed a computer version of the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test - Visualization of Rotations (PSVT). The instrument was used to record student responses and response times as well as information on gender, current major, number of previous graphics courses completed, and method used to solve the test items. The theoretical framework of the study is based on Paivio’s dual-coding theory [1]. Coordinate axes were added to a portion of the PSVT for the experimental group to determine if the axes provided contextual cues necessary to improve scores and response times. The researcher hypothesized that coordinate axes would provide verbal cues that could be coded along with nonverbal information to improve mental rotation efficiency. The additional coordinate axes slightly (but not significantly) improved scores on the PSVT, but not response times.

Introduction Spatial ability has been of interest to people in many disciplines. It has been shown to be related to success in chemistry [2], geometry [3], and technical graphics [4]. Researchers in these fields have been concerned with devising ways to increase the spatial abilities of their students. The problem is spatial ability has been defined many different ways. McGee [5] defines spatial ability in terms of two factors: spatial visualization and spatial orientation. Spatial visualization requires the individual to mentally transform a perceived object (mentally rotate, twist, or invert). Spatial orientation requires the individual to remain unconfused when a pattern of objects has been rearranged. Since spatial ability is defined in many ways, it is also true that tests designed to measure spatial ability are equally as diverse. Research has shown that the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test - Visualization of Rotations [6] measures spatial visualization ability.

Information-processing theory provides an explanation for how spatial information is processed. The dual-coding model [7] offers some explanation for differences in processing strategies. Humans process information mentally through two systems. The verbal system handles abstract information and processes it in a sequential, successive manner. The nonverbal system handles concrete information and processes it in a synchronous, simultaneous manner. The nonverbal system handles mental rotation tasks more efficiently than the verbal system, however, the main emphasis of Paivio’s theory is that information processed or coded in both systems can be retrieved and manipulated more readily.

Branoff, T. (1998, June), Coordinate Axes And Mental Rotation Tasks: A Dual Coding Approach Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--6995

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