June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
The ability to visualize objects and situations in one’s mind and to manipulate those images is a cognitive skill vital to many career fields, especially those that require work with graphical images. There is evidence to suggest that well-developed 3D spatial skills are critical to success in Engineering, Chemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics, Medicine, Biology, and Dentistry. In fact, most technical career fields require excellent 3D spatial skills. Spatial abilities have been widely studied and are known to be fundamental to higher-level thinking, reasoning, and creative processes. Individuals vary widely in spatial skills; however, research on mental imagery has shown that component skills can be improved through training and practice.
Through this research design we will examine student performance on two diagnostic tests they are required to complete during first-year orientation at a large public university. There is evidence to suggest that spatial skills are predictors of success for certain types of mathematics problems and we will use this data to determine if this is the case. In particular, spatial skills have been shown to be critical to success in solving word problems. Most of the work relating to word problems and spatial skills has been conducted at the K-12 level. We are particularly interested in determining if there is a link between spatial skills and the ability to solve word problems at the university level.
The objective of this research project are to determine the relationship between spatial skills and math problem-solving skills. The specific research questions to be answered through this study include: • Do spatial skills predict success on a mathematics placement test routinely administered at the university for first-year engineering students? • Do spatial skills predict the ability to solve certain types of specific problems (e.g., trigonometry) from the mathematics placement exam for first-year engineering students?
This paper will outline the findings from this study and will examine implications for curricular reform based on these results.
Duffy, G., & Sorby, S. A., & Mack, A., & Bowe, B. (2017, June), Performance by Gender on University Placement Tests in Mathematics and Spatial Skills Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/28737
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