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Raising the Bar? Longitudinal Study to Determine which Students Would Benefit Most from Spatial Training

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Improving Visualization Skills

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1210.1 - 22.1210.13



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Paper Authors


Norma L Veurink Michigan Technological University

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Ms. Veurink is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Engineering Fundamentals at Michigan Tech where she teaches first year engineering courses. She has researched the impact of spatial training on student success and is actively involved in the Engineering Design Graphics Division of ASEE.

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Sheryl A. Sorby Michigan Technological University

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Sheryl A. Sorby is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics and Director of Engineering Education and Research. She is the former Associate Dean for Academic Programs in the College of Engineering at Michigan Technological University and previously served as a rotator to the Division of Undergraduate Education at the National Science Foundation. Sorby is active in the American Society for Engineering Education serving as Director of Programs and past chair of the Engineering Design Graphics Division of ASEE. She was a recipient of the Dow Outstanding New Faculty award and the Distinguished Teaching award, both from the North Midwest Section of ASEE. Her research interests include spatial visualization and computer aided design. She was recently awarded WEPAN’s Betty Vetter Award for research on women in engineering.

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Raising the Bar? Longitudinal Study to Determine which Students Would Benefit Most from Spatial Training____ University has been offering a course in developing spatial skills since 1993. Forthe first offering of the course, students were randomly assigned to the spatial skillscourse. For the next 15 years of its existence, the course was recommended to studentswho scored 60% or lower on the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test: Rotations (PSVT:R)during orientation and enrollment into the course was strictly voluntary. Retention ratesand grades in graphics and calculus courses were compared for those students who tookthe spatial training and those that did not, even though they “failed” the PSVT:R. Studiesfound the students taking the spatial training had significantly higher grades and retentionrates. Beginning in the fall of 2009, the spatial skills course was required of allengineering students who scored 60% or lower on the PSVT:R. During an analysis todetermine if requiring the training resulted in less significant positive impacts on grades,it was discovered the students taking the training had higher math and graphics gradesthan students who marginally passed the PSVT:R and thus did not receive the spatialtraining. This paper will describe a longitudinal study comparing the success of studentswith poorly developed, marginally developed, and well developed spatial skills.Variables to be examined include: grades in graphics, mathematics, and science courses,and retention rates.

Veurink, N. L., & Sorby, S. A. (2011, June), Raising the Bar? Longitudinal Study to Determine which Students Would Benefit Most from Spatial Training Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18592

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