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Measuring And Enhancing Spatial Visualization In Engineering Technology Students

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Graphics and Visualization

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.868.1 - 14.868.9



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Paper Authors

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Patrick Connolly Purdue University

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La Verne Abe Harris Purdue University

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Mary Sadowski Purdue University

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

Measuring and Enhancing Spatial Visualization in Engineering Technology Students


One way engineering technology curricula aid in the preparation of future engineers and technologists is in the development of spatial visualization skills to better solve real world engineering design problems. This paper focuses on a recent study at Purdue University that was part of the National Science Foundation funded project: Enhancing Visualization Skills— Improving Options aNd Success (EnViSIONS). The purpose of the Envisions project is to disseminate and compare results for a course of remedial spatial visualization modules at seven major universities. The data will be collected and the impact of the modules or courses will be measured independently at all universities.

Four spatial ability modules were incorporated into one course at Purdue University: CGT 116, Geometric Modeling for Visualization & Communication, which is a core introductory computer graphics course that provides entry-level experiences in geometric modeling. As part of this course, students develop geometric analysis and modeling construction techniques and processes to produce accurate computer models for graphic visualization and communication.

One laboratory section of the course was the experimental group and had access to the remediation materials, including a workbook (Introduction to 3D Spatial Visualization: An Active Approach [1]) and practice website (VIZ; developed at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College [2]). Other laboratory sections made up the control group and did not have access to the additional materials. All students took the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test-Rotations, Mental Cutting Test [3], and the Modified Lappan Spatial Visualization Test [4] before the visualization modules were taught. Students then took these same tests at the end of the visualization modules. The pre- and post-assessment scores were compared to measured gains in spatial ability. Because past spatial visualization studies have found significant differences in scores when compared by gender [5-8], this construct would have been explored; however the number of females in this study was too small to provide significant insight.

Background Information

The EnViSIONS Project The EnViSIONS Project is a collaborative effort by faculty at seven universities to examine, test, and report on efforts to enhance 3D spatial visualization skills through the use of educational modules and support resources. One primary focus of the research is to assist in the development of spatial skills in female students. Spatial skills are a key component for success in STEM related fields, where female participation is often underrepresented. The collaborators are pursuing a wide variety of research studies to further the body of knowledge in this area, as well as exploring technological resources for classroom and individual learning. This study is one component of this research effort. It is hoped that long-term results of this effort will impact K- 16 educational programs and spatial skill assessment measures at many levels of standards-based testing.

Connolly, P., & Harris, L. V. A., & Sadowski, M. (2009, June), Measuring And Enhancing Spatial Visualization In Engineering Technology Students Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4712

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