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Examining the Interaction of Spatial Visualization Ability and Computer-aided Design and Manufacturing Course Performance

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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 2

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.707.1 - 26.707.13



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Paper Authors


Michael Johnson Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Michael D. Johnson is an associate professor in the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution at Texas A&M University. Prior to joining the faculty at Texas A&M, he was a senior product development engineer at the 3M Corporate Research Laboratory in St. Paul, Minnesota. He received his B.S. in mechanical engineering from Michigan State University and his S.M. and Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Johnson’s research focuses on design tools; specifically, the cost modeling and analysis of product development and manufacturing systems; computer-aided design methodology; and engineering education.

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So Yoon Yoon Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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So Yoon Yoon, Ph.D., is a post-doctoral research associate at Texas A&M University. She received her Ph.D. and Educational Psychology with the specialties in Gifted Education and Research Methods & Measurement, respectively from Purdue University. Her work centers on P-16 engineering education research, as a psychometrician, program evaluator, and institutional data analyst. As a psychometrician, she revised the PSVT:R for secondary and undergraduate students, developed the TESS (Teaching Engineering Self-efficacy Scale) for K-12 teachers, and rescaled the SASI (Student Attitudinal Success Inventory) for engineering students. As a program evaluator, she has evaluated the effects of teacher professional development (TPD) programs on K-6 teachers’ and elementary students’ attitudes toward engineering and STEM knowledge. As an institutional data analyst, she is investigating engineering students’ pathways to their success, exploring subgroup variations.

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Examining the Interaction of Spatial Visualization Ability and Computer-aided Design and Manufacturing Course PerformanceComputer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) tools are ubiquitous in the modernproduct commercialization environment. Students entering this environment will need to be wellskilled in using these tools. One of the key skills associated with both CAD and CAM is spatialvisualization. While several studies have examined the relationship between CAD and spatialvisualization ability, there has been significantly less work investigating visualization ability’srelationship with CAM. A better understanding of the relationship between spatial visualizationability and CAD/CAM course performance as well as the effects of these courses on studentvisualization ability (through pre- and post-tests) could enhance student performance with theseessential tools.This work uses the Revised Purdue Spatial Visualization Tests: Visualization of Rotations(Revised PSVT:R) to assess undergraduate students’ spatial visualization ability. Theparticipants of this study are students who have taken a CAM or CAD course at a largesouthwestern public university. Students’ pre- and post-course spatial visualization data from thetwo courses are compared. In addition, spatial visualization test scores are compared tolaboratory exercise performance metrics and other demographic data.Initial results using partial data showed that on average, students achieved relatively high scoreson the Revised PSVT:R compared to the average scores of first year engineering students in theliterature. While there was a positive correlation between visualization ability and CAD courseperformance, no statistically significant relationship was seen for CAM courses. Neither CADcourses nor CAM courses were seen to increase student spatial visualization ability. However,there was a positive correlation between the number of CAD/CAM courses a student has takenand their spatial visualization ability. As students taking those courses were already juniors orseniors who took similar courses before, their high scores on the Revised PSVT:R implies thattheir spatial ability would already be saturated, meaning little or no room for improvement.

Johnson, M., & Yoon, S. Y. (2015, June), Examining the Interaction of Spatial Visualization Ability and Computer-aided Design and Manufacturing Course Performance Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24044

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