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Spatial Visualization By Realistic 3 D Views

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Graphics and Visualization

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1292.1 - 12.1292.14

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Paper Authors


Jianping Yue Essex County College

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Jianping Yue is Professor and Chairperson of the Division of Engineering Technologies and Computer Sciences at Essex County College, Newark, New Jersey. He is a NASA Administrator’s Fellow, and a Certified Senior Industrial Technologist by the National Association of Industrial Technology. Dr. Yue received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Hydraulic and Coastal Engineering from Wuhan University, China in 1977 and 1982, and a Ph.D. degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Memphis, Tennessee in 1990.

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

Spatial Visualization by Realistic 3D Views


Spatial visualization skills are essential in many engineering and technology fields. These skills are especially important in hand sketching and computer-aided design (CAD) of engineering graphics, when it is necessary to visualize and represent three-dimensional (3D) objects and assemblies. Educators and researchers have developed various types of tests to assess students’ abilities in spatial visualization tasks. Conventional visualization tests usually use axonometric drawings, mostly isometric projections, to represent 3D objects. However, isometric drawings are dimensionally distorted and lack many features present in a realistic view of 3D objects. They are also prone to drawing errors, which, when combined with the inherent distortions of isometric drawing, may lead to misjudgment of students’ visualization abilities. In order to accurately assess students’ visualization ability, realistic views are necessary in spatial visualization tests. To investigate the effects of 3D views, the author conducted a comparative study of a popular spatial visualization test given to the first-year graphics and CAD classes at a minority community college. The objects in the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test – Visualization by Rotations (PSVT-R) were recreated with 3D solid modeling CAD software to show more realistic views. The results from both the original test in isometric views and the same test with 3D solid model views are statistically analyzed. Also, a more detailed discussion is presented of the advantages of using solid modeling in spatial visualization tests, and the drawbacks of the conventional test using isometric drawings.

1. Introduction

Spatial visualization is a fundamental skill in engineering and technology fields. From the traditional board drawings of multiviews, sections, and assemblies, to modern solid modeling using computer aided design (CAD) software, almost all product designs require the visualization of three dimensional (3D) objects. Spatial visualization abilities have become more important in new technological frontiers such as space exploration, remote robotic surgery, etc.

In recent decades, educators and researchers have developed various test formats to evaluate students’ spatial visualization skills. In the 1970s, psychologists intensively studied spatial visualization from the perspective of cognition and perception. Shepard and Metzler 1 designed a test to investigate the reaction time of visualizing rotated 3D objects. Vandenberg and Kuse 2 later developed a test, based on Shepard and Metzler’s model, known as the mental rotation test (MRT). Ekstrom 3 also included spatial visualization in a set of cognitive tests, which were included in the Educational Testing Service’s (ETS) catalog of standardized tests. Engineering and technology educators also investigated the relationship between spatial visualization abilities and technical graphics skills. Among these educators, Guay 4 developed the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test (PSVT) which consists of 36 problems equally divided into three categories: developments, rotations, and isometric views. Guay 5 also expanded the problems of rotations into a 30-problem test called the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test – Visualization of Rotations

Yue, J. (2007, June), Spatial Visualization By Realistic 3 D Views Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii.

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