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Sketching, Assessment, and Persistence in Spatial Visualization Training On a Touchscreen

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

EDGD: Assessment & Student Learning

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

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Paper Authors


Nathan Delson University of California, San Diego

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Nathan Delson’s interests include mechatronics, biomedical devices, human-machine interfaces, and engineering education. He isCo-founder and Past President of Coactive Drive Corp., which develops novel actuators and control methods for use in force feedback human interfaces. Medical device projects include an instrumented mannequin and laryngoscope for expert skill acquisition and airway intubation training. He received his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California, San Diego, and then went on to get a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994. He was a lecturer and Director of the Design Studio at Yale University for four years, and then returned to his alma matter, UC, San Diego, in 1999. He is now a tenured lecturer and Director of the Design Center in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He teaches hands-on design courses, including an introductory design class, a mechatronics class, and a capstone design class. His interests in design education include increasing student motivation, teamwork, and integration of theory into design projects.

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Lelli Van Den Einde University of California, San Diego

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Van Den Einde is a Teaching Professor in Structural Engineering at UC San Diego. She incorporates education innovations into courses (Peer Instruction, Project-based learning), prepares next generation faculty, advises student organizations, hears cases of academic misconduct, is responsible for ABET, and is committed to fostering a supportive environment for diverse students. Her research focuses on engagement strategies for large classrooms and developing K-16 curriculum in earthquake engineering and spatial visualization.

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Spatial visualization training has been shown to increase GPAs and graduation rates in science, technology and math. Furthermore, prior research has correlated sketching on paper to improvement on the standardized spatial visualization test PSVT:R. To take advantage of touchscreen technology, an App, in which students draw orthographic and isometric assignments, was developed for spatial visualization training. Students draw on the touchscreen and then submit their sketch to be graded automatically. If the sketch is incorrect, the students are provided with the option to try again or get customized guidance from the app. This allows students to work independently and get immediate feedback. In 2014, a trial using the App with college engineering students showed that it increased students’ performance on the PSVT:R. The 2014 trial also showed that student persistence, as measured by the number of times they tried a sketch again without asking for help, correlated to increases in the PSVT:R. Since 2014, the App was modified significantly. The assignments were rewritten to take advantage of the touchscreen interface, and persistence was encouraged using gamification and by providing varying levels of guidance. In 2017, two trials were conducted with college engineering students; an elective class (n=32) and a required class (n=137). Overall the persistence metric increased from 40% in 2014 to 77% in 2017. The overall gains on the PSVT:R increased from 7% to 9%. However, much larger gains occurred among students who entered the class with low PSVT:R scores (70% and below). These students are considered “at-risk” in terms of low graduation rate due to low spatial visualization ability. In 2014, 23% of these at-risk students improved to the point of moving out of the at-risk category. In 2017 this percentage increased to 82% and 67%. This paper describes the modifications to the App that led to the successful trials in 2017. In O=one of the 2017 trials , the app was implemented as homework, thereby not taking up classroom lecture time, which further eases the incorporation of spatial visualization training into a crowded curriculum.

Delson, N., & Van Den Einde, L. (2018, June), Sketching, Assessment, and Persistence in Spatial Visualization Training On a Touchscreen Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30968

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