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Evaluating Spatial Visualization Learning Through Digitized Sketches: A Case Study of Engineering Students' Orthographic Projection Errors

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

Engineering Design Graphics Division Technical Session 1

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Paper Authors


Lelli Van Den Einde University of California, San Diego

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Lelli Van Den Einde is a Teaching Professor in Structural Engineering at UCSD. She incorporates education innovations into courses (Peer Instruction, Project-based learning), prepares next generation faculty through TA Training, serves as advisor to student organizations, and is committed to fostering a supportive environment for diverse students. Her research focuses on engagement strategies for large classrooms and developing K-16 curriculum in earthquake engineering and spatial visualization. In 2016 Lelli co-founded eGrove Education, Inc. an educational software company focused on teaching sketching and spatial visualization skills.

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Nathan Delson University of California, San Diego

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Nathan Delson is a Teaching Professor at the University of California at San Diego. His research interests include robotics, biomedical devices, and engineering education. He teaches introductory design, mechanics, mechatronics, capstone design, medical devices, and product design & entrepreneurship. His interests in design education includes increasing student motivation, teamwork, hands-on projects, and integration of theory into design projects. In 1999 he co-founded Coactive Drive Corporation (currently General Vibration), a company that provides haptic solutions. In 2016 Nate co-founded eGrove Education, Inc. an educational software company focused on teaching sketching and spatial visualization skills.

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Elizabeth Cowan eGrove Education

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Lizzy Cowan has a cognitive science background and is the user experience researcher and designer at eGrove Education, Inc. She has been developing spatial visualization and sketching products for eight years and has a deep understanding of the unique challenges students face when learning these skills. She focuses on creating an engaging and personalized learning experience for students and valuable resources for educators.

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Bahar Memarian University of Toronto

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Bahar Memarian is a researcher and educator with research interests in the areas of Engineering Education (Problem-solving, Learning-outcomes Assessment, Experiential Learning, Design, and Creativity) and Human Factors Engineering (Cognitive-systems Engineering, User Experience, Display Design, and Interaction). She obtained her Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering and the Collaborative Specialization in Engineering Education at the University of Toronto, Canada (March 2021). Before that, she completed her MASc. (2015) and BASc. (2012) in Electrical Engineering at the University of Toronto.

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A Computer Based Learning (CBL) system called Spatial Vis was developed to teach spatial visualization, which has been shown to increase success in engineering and STEM disciplines. In this CBL environment, students digitally freehand sketch solutions to orthographic and isometric assignments. The CBL automatically grades student sketches and provides hints to them when a mistake is made. Spatial Vis has been successful in increasing the average student performance on a standardized spatial visualization test, PSVT:R. However, there remain some students who do not improve their post-test scores despite completing the sketching assignments. This study aimed to better understand the student learning process and how it could be improved by evaluating the specific sketches students drew. From an introductory engineering graphics class of 140 students, 5 students were selected who started the class with a low PSVT:R pre-test score. Each assignment from a lesson on orthographic projections was evaluated including each submitted sketch attempt and the hints provided to the student. The reason for student errors were hypothesized, and evidence of learning between assignments was documented. Of the five students, two of them demonstrated a high level of persistence in completing assignments correctly without asking for hints, and these two students achieved significant post-test improvements. For these students with high gains in spatial skills, learning was observed following Mini-Hint feedback, and retention of learning from one assignment to follow on assignments was demonstrated. There was one student that had low persistence, and indeed tried to game the CBL system, and this student did not have a significant change in their post-test. The two remaining students completed a large number of assignments (including extra credit) with relatively high persistence, but did not improve their post-test scores. One of these students had very high persistence in all lessons, except for the most difficult lesson involving mental rotations about two different axes. For the other student, no explanation was found for lack of post-test gains and this topic remains a subject for future studies. Overall, the detailed analysis of student sketches identified a number of recommendations for improving the CBL environment. These included additional early assignments on Top Views and also assignments to improve alignment and orientation of orthographic views. Findings highlight the need for additional data mining and research to improve instructional design and feedback for spatial visualization skill training for all students.

Van Den Einde, L., & Delson, N., & Cowan, E., & Memarian, B. (2022, August), Evaluating Spatial Visualization Learning Through Digitized Sketches: A Case Study of Engineering Students' Orthographic Projection Errors Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. 10.18260/1-2--41636

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