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Developing a Coding Rubric for Students’ Spatial Visualization Strategies

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

First-Year Programs Division - Visualization and Mathematics

Tagged Divisions

First-Year Programs and Mathematics

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Paper Authors


Adetoun Oludara Yeaman Virginia Tech

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Adetoun Yeaman is a second year PhD student in Engineering Education at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). She received here MS in Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering and her BS in Biomedical Engineering both from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is currently a Graduate Research Assistant. In her first year, she taught two semesters of a freshman engineering course series, Foundations of Engineering. Her research interests include multimedia learning, design education and empathic design.

Address: Virginia Tech Engineering Education (MC 0218) 345 Goodwin Hall, 635 Prices Fork Rd, Blacksburg, VA 24061.

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Diana Bairaktarova Virginia Tech

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Diana Bairaktarova is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech and the Director of the Abilities, Creativity, and Ethics in Design [ACE(D)] Lab.

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Tamara Knott Virginia Tech

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Tamara Knott is Associate Professor of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. Her primary responsibility centers on teaching in the First Year Program. Her interests include assessment and pedagogy. Within ASEE, she is a member of the First-year Programs Division, the Women in Engineering Division, the Educational Research and Methods Division, and the Design in Engineering Education Division. She is also a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and is the Faculty Adviser for SWE at VT.

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Spatial abilities are important in many scientific fields including engineering. People can develop their spatial abilities through practice and training. This possibility highlights the usefulness of strategies that can be used for solving spatial tasks. There are several reliable spatial ability measures including paper cutting tests, mental rotation tests, and cross section tests. The current study examines strategies that students reported using while taking a cross section test, Santa Barbara Solids Test (SBST).

This Complete Research paper describes the development of a coding rubric based on identified engineering students’ strategies for tackling spatial reasoning tasks. We take a qualitative approach in the establishment of the coding rubric by examining students self-reported strategies while taking a spatial reasoning test. The participants in our study are first-year engineering (FYE) students, enrolled in an Introduction to Spatial Visualization course at a large land grant University. This course is recommended for first-year students who score below the threshold required of incoming students on the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test: Rotation (PSVT:R) on entry into the engineering program to help them improve their spatial visualization skills. The study sample consists of over 150 students. At the beginning of the semester, students completed the SBST in class electronically. At the end of the test, students were asked to share any strategies they have used while taking the 30 questions of SBST. The responses to this open-ended question were collected and analyzed first by looking for emerging categories.

The results included evidence of differences in the strategies students used on the test. One researcher did initial coding of participants’ responses. Ten themes emerged from this initial coding process. The ten themes and the data set was sent to two other researchers. The two researchers independently coded students’ responses and then the coding team met together to discuss the emerging categories and the initial coding rubric. Inter-coder agreement was established between the three coders and six categories of strategies were finalized, namely mental action, guessing, guiding rule, intuition, process of elimination, and thinking.

The results of this study can be useful in understanding how students tackle spatial tasks. This can provide some insight on how to offer more efficiently spatial visualization training, particularly on cross section tests. Our next steps are to investigate if gender influences one’s strategies in solving cross-sectional problems and to further refine the coding rubric using a second sample of the same population (next cohort of FYE students). We also plan to examine strategies students use in spatial ability tests other than cross-section tests.

Yeaman, A. O., & Bairaktarova, D., & Knott, T. (2018, June), Developing a Coding Rubric for Students’ Spatial Visualization Strategies Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30289

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