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Spatial Ability Testing With Augmented Reality

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Spatial Ability and Visualization in Graphics Education

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1077.1 - 15.1077.10



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Paper Authors

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Patrick Connolly Purdue University

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James Beeler Purdue University

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Pat Connaughton Purdue University

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Jared Price Purdue University

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Ben Trefz Purdue University

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

Spatial Ability Testing with Augmented Reality


This paper reports on research in spatial ability testing comparing traditional 2D test instrument images with hybrid testing involving augmented virtual reality images. Augmented reality involves the combination of virtual reality displays with real world environments. Non- immersive virtual reality systems are becoming popular in many industries and across many applications such as scientific visualization, product development, and interactive entertainment. The goal of this research was to examine the potential impact of augmented reality technology on the successful completion of a standardized visualization test instrument. Participants in the study were students enrolled in an introductory engineering design graphics course at a Midwestern university. Two test groups were organized from the students in the class, one control and one treatment. The control group completed the standard Vandenberg Mental Rotations Test, with static images displayed on computer workstation monitors. The participants received 90 seconds to answer each question on the test. The treatment group received identical test questions but viewed the object as a 3D augmented reality image that was slowly rotated through one revolution. The participants in this group also received 90 seconds to answer each question on the test. Quantitative and qualitative results were recorded for the study. Future research plans are discussed as well as lessons learned from this augmented reality application.


Spatial skills, sometimes referred to as spatial ability, are increasingly important in a workplace that is dependent on collaboration and communication. These spatial skills are vital in numerous fields including engineering, medicine, and manufacturing. Historically, there has been a great deal of interest in methods of instruction and technology that could potentially increase the spatial skills of its users. In recent years, the rise in virtual reality, be it immersive, augmented, or desktop, has fueled renewed research in spatial ability development. During the Spring 2009 semester at ________ University, a research group sought to investigate the potential of augmented reality (AR) as a solution to this growing desire for a technology to aid in spatial ability development1. In their study, they found qualitative support that augmented reality was a potential means of achieving greater spatial skill development. This initial research featured a control group and an experimental group, each taking a standard visualization test. The control group took the test without any technology to assist them, while the experimental group was allowed to use augmented virtual reality displays to assist in completing the visualization test. It was found that a majority of the students that used the augmented reality tool found it to be a useful resource in their taking of the test. Many participants also felt that it would be a good educational tool to help develop spatial skills. This paper reports on a follow-on study attempting to validate quantitatively the qualitative results of the first study. According to Firestone2, there is a significant advantage to using both qualitative and quantitative studies in combination to further qualify a conclusion. Qualitative studies work to create a series of potential avenues for further research while quantitative studies choose one of these routes, singles it out, and attempts to validate it.

Connolly, P., & Beeler, J., & Connaughton, P., & Price, J., & Trefz, B. (2010, June), Spatial Ability Testing With Augmented Reality Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15987

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