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Strategy Variability in Solving Spatial Visualization Tasks: Rethinking the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test - Developments

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Spatial Visualization Within Engineering Design Graphics

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

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Paper Authors


Karthik Sukumar Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Karthik Sukumar is a PhD. Candidate from the College of Technology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. Karthik Sukumar's research interests include understanding spatial ability problem solving in individuals and understanding the inherent processes involved. He also focuses on the role of spatial ability in enhancing athlete performance on the field by identifying differences between expert and novice athletes.

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Zheng Zhou Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Zheng Zhou is currently a Ph.D candidate in Department of Computer Graphics Technology at Purdue University, West Lafayette. His research interests include educational interactive system design, serious game design, information visualization, and spatial ability research. Zhou received both Master of Arts and Bachelor of Arts in Media Technology and Art from Harbin Institute of Technology, China.

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James L. Mohler Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. James L. Mohler is Associate Dean o the Graduate School and Professor of Computer Graphics Technology (CGT) at Purdue University. Dr. Mohler began his academic career in 1992 and was promoted to professor in 2009. He has served in the following administrative roles: 2002‐2003, Senior Research Scientist of Multimedia and Web Development in Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP); 2003‐2005, Director of the ITaP Informatics Group; 2008‐2009, Assistant Department Head, CGT; 2009‐2011, Associate Department Head, CGT; 2011 (June through October), Interim Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and 2011‐2015, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs & Diversity. Dr. Mohler is a Purdue University Faculty Scholar, a member of the Purdue University Teaching Academy and a past faculty fellow for the Discovery Learning Center and Owen and Tarkington Residence Halls. Dr. Mohler is also a Guest Professor at the Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin, P.R. China.

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The proposed research aims to understand the strategies involved in solving pattern development tasks from the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test (PSVT). Over the years in spatial ability, mental rotation and spatial orientation have been thoroughly examined to understand the mental processes involved in solving these types problems. However, spatial visualization, which is captured by pattern development tasks has been minimally researched. The inherent processes in solving such tasks have not been extensively examined. The proposed research examines the strategies used by individuals in solving the Developments section of PSVT (PSVT-D). The idea was to investigate spatial visualization ability by eliminating the potential use of analytical skills in solving these problems. An endeavor was made to also examine the obstacles that prevent individuals from using either spatial or analytical strategies in solving pattern development tasks. It was hypothesized that test performance does not change significantly.

A population of 191 college students enrolled in a 100-level technical graphics course for civil engineering and construction were administered the PSVT. Based on their PSVT-D scores students were sampled into two groups of high and low spatial abilities. The students with high and low spatial ability were re-administered 5 questions from the PSVT-D. The students were asked to sketch an isometric view of the 3D object from the given 2D pattern. Using a think-aloud protocol the students were asked to explain their visualization process in order to elicit spatial thinking. After each sketch, the students were also asked to describe their visualization strategy used in solving the problem by using a cardboard cut-out to help specifically understand the obstacles of strategy use for those students who were not able to sketch the isometric object.

Sukumar, K., & Zhou, Z., & Mohler, J. L. (2016, June), Strategy Variability in Solving Spatial Visualization Tasks: Rethinking the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test - Developments Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25887

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