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Spatial Visualization By Orthogonal Rotations

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Visualization and Computer Graphics

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1114.1 - 9.1114.10

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Paper Authors

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Jianping Yue

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

Session 3138

Spatial Visualization by Orthogonal Rotations

Jianping Yue Essex County College


Spatial visualization skills are important in engineering graphics and computer-aided design courses, especially in three-dimensional solid modeling that has been widely adopted in college curricula and applied in industries. Researchers have developed various types of tests to assess students’ spatial visualization abilities. Orthogonal rotation about the axes of the Cartesian coordinate system is one of the most commonly used testing methods for spatial visualization. In this paper, the author first presents the maximum possible number of orthogonal rotational views of an object. Analyses are presented for two spatial visualization tests by their representations of the possible orthogonal rotations and the difficulty of visualization. Finally, the author makes some suggestions on the improvements of spatial visualization tests based on the possible orthogonal rotations.

1. Introduction

Spatial visualization skills have been considered important in engineering graphics. In the 1980’s, computer-aided design (CAD) was introduced into classrooms, along with the development of computer hardware and software. Nowadays, three-dimensional (3D) solid modeling CAD is very popular in industrial applications and a fundamental skill for engineering and technology students. These developments have revitalized educators’ interest in spatial visualization 1, 2.

Spatial visualization skills may be tested by various formats 3, 4, such as surface folding/unfolding, symmetry, revolution, projection, section, and rotation. Among these formats, rotation of a 3D object about one or more axes is a popular method.

Psychologists have studied spatial visualization from the perspective of cognition and perception. Shepard and Metzler 5 designed an experiment to investigate the reaction time of visualizing rotated 3D objects. The objects were composed of ten face-to-face connected cubes with three right-angled bends and two free ends, and distinct by the number of cubes in the sections and the orientation of the bends. The rotations were from 0° to 180° with 20° increments either in the projection plane or in depth. Vandenberg and Kuse 6 later developed a test based on Shepard and Metzler’s model, which is known as the mental rotation test (MRT) and widely used. Because engineering and technical graphics involve multiview or orthogonal projections, the rotational

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Yue, J. (2004, June), Spatial Visualization By Orthogonal Rotations Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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