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Development of a Crystal Spatial Visualization Survey for Introductory Materials Classes

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Outreach Activities and Introductory Materials Engineering

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

25.449.1 - 25.449.10



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Paper Authors


Stephen J. Krause Arizona State University

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Stephen J. Krause is professor in the School of Materials in the Fulton School of Engineering at Arizona State University. He teaches in the areas of bridging engineering and education, capstone design, and introductory materials engineering. His research interests are evaluating conceptual knowledge, misconceptions and their repair, and conceptual change. He has co-developed a Materials Concept Inventory for assessing conceptual knowledge of students in introductory materials engineering classes. He is currently conducting research on misconceptions and development of strategies and tools to promote conceptual change in materials courses.

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Alexander Sterling

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Jacquelyn E. Kelly Maricopa County Education Service Agency


Danny Stehlik Arizona State University

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Danny Stehlik is an undergraduate student in chemical engineering in the Fulton School of Engineering at Arizona State University, class of 2014. He works with the characterization and measurement of conceptual understanding changes in introductory materials science classes. He is also a research assistant, where he investigates novel electrochemical energy storage materials and their nanostructuring.

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Omowunmi Isaacs-Sodeye Arizona State University


Dale R. Baker Arizona State University

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Dale Baker is a professor of science education and the Former Editor of the Journal of Research in Science Teaching. She is a fellow of the American Educational Research Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Her research interests are engineering education, equity issues in STEM, and teacher professional development.

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Development of a Crystal Spatial Visualization Survey for Introductory Materials ClassesSpatial visualization ability is a key skill for engineering students and practitioners inmany engineering disciplines. In material science and engineering, it is a critical skill forunderstanding and modeling relationships between materials structure at a nano andmicrolevel and macroscopic properties and atomic mechanisms associated withprocessing. As such, foundational content in any introductory materials course includestopics on crystal structures and associated crystallographic techniques for indexing andcharacterizing crystal structure features such as point, line and plane indexing. At thejuncture between crystal structures and crystallographic feature visualization ischaracterization of images and features of a given plane when it intersects a particularcrystal structure at different positions with different orientations. A clear understandingand ability to visualize planar crystal packing and features for different crystal structuresis critical for understanding property relationships and processing mechanisms for allmaterials families. For example, deformation mechanisms in metals can be shown anddescribed with schematic diagrams for the crystallography of different metal structures.However, this critical skill is also difficult for students to learn, understand, and use. Theresearch question for this paper is, "What are students' misconceptions and priorknowledge associated with drawing hard sphere atom models of planar packing fordifferent metal structures". Answering this question should provide knowledge fordeveloping more effective pedagogy for teaching and learning about crystallography ofmaterials' structures. To uncover prior knowledge and misconceptions, students weregiven worksheets prior to instruction and asked to draw planar packing images of (100),(110), and (111) planes for simple cubic, face centered cubic, and body centered cubiccrystal structures. The sketched images were analyzed and revealed a number ofcharacteristic misconceptions that included: missing atoms, extra atoms, misplacedatoms, non-touching atoms, and touching atoms. Other misconceptions were also presentbut with lower frequencies of occurrence. After instruction, the most frequentmisconceptions found were missing atoms, touching atoms, and non-touching atoms.From these results, a 10-item, multiple choice, Crystal Spatial Visualization Survey wascreated. Preliminary results showed that students' crystal spatial visualization conceptualskills had improved after instruction, but a significant fraction of 40 students in anintroductory class still had misconceptions that had not been repaired. Background,procedures and results will be discussed in greater detail in the full paper.

Krause, S. J., & Sterling, A., & Kelly, J. E., & Stehlik, D., & Isaacs-Sodeye, O., & Baker, D. R. (2012, June), Development of a Crystal Spatial Visualization Survey for Introductory Materials Classes Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21207

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