New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Spatial ability has been an area of research for decades. Distinct correlations have been discovered regarding research into spatial ability and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics disciplines (STEM). However, spatial ability is a term that can be confusing to practitioners. For this purpose, spatial ability, a measure of an individual’s capability to exercise a specific construct of spatial thinking, will be defined explicitly in this paper. Spatial ability has been positively correlated to success in the professional engineering world as well as within engineering coursework. In view of this correlational evidence, an argument forms for the academy to develop a more refined understanding of the improvement in spatial ability and underlying impacting mechanisms of spatial thinking within undergraduate engineering courses.
This paper presents preliminary research into spatial ability’s correlation to performance in an engineering Statics course. Statics is a fertile engineering course to research as it is a gateway course where students often determine if they will persevere in engineering. It is the first class in the Engineering Mechanics Series and is required by most mechanical, civil, environmental, biological, and aerospace engineering programs.
Results indicate that spatial ability does improve significantly in a Statics course for both sexes. Data was collected using two spatial instruments, the Mental Cutting Test and the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test: Visualization of Rotations, and a demographic survey. A pre- and post-test design was used for both tests where tests where given in the first week and in the final week of the course. A series of paired t-tests are used to statistically analyze for improvement and the potential correlation between the spatial pre- and post-tests demographic variables. Additionally, the study was replicated in an Anatomy class to address potential risks to the study. Results indicate that spatial ability of the students in the Anatomy class does not significantly improve. Further research is suggested in looking into the demographic factors of each study including previous and concurrent course experience.
Wood, S. D., & Goodridge, W. H., & Call, B. J., & Sweeten, T. L. (2016, June), Preliminary Analysis of Spatial Ability Improvement within an Engineering Mechanics Course: Statics Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25942
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2016 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015