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The Anatomy Of Spatial Ability Improvement Over The Course Of A Semester Long Computer Aided Design Class

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Assessment and Evaluation of Graphics Programs

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1200.1 - 13.1200.17



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Paper Authors

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Richard Onyancha Rose Hulman Institute Of Technology


Matthew Derov University of New Hampshire

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Brad Kinsey University of New Hampshire

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

The Anatomy of Spatial Ability Impr ovement Over the Cour se of a Semester Long Computer Aided Design Class


Spatial ability has been defined as the ability to generate, retain, retrieve and transform well-structured visual images1. These skills are extremely important in engineering practice and many other professions2-7 as well such as chemistry, physics, etc. Spatial ability has been shown to improve over the course of a Computer Aided Design course or through targeted training8-12. The targeted training can take different forms such as semester long spatial skills courses as shown by Sorby8, or short targeted training as discussed by Onyancha et al9, and His et al12.

In investigating the improvements noted in spatial ability scores before and after training, the question of which shapes and rotations showed the greatest improvement has not been studied. To provide data with respect to this question, portions of the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test (PSVT) and a Self Efficacy Test were administered to mechanical engineering freshmen (registered in a Computer Aided Design course) within a College of Engineering and Physical Sciences in a comprehensive State University at the beginning of the fall semesters in 2006 and 2007. The subjects were divided into three groups based on how they scored in the PSVT at the beginning of the semester viz. Experimental (scored less than or equal to 60% in the PSVT and received targeted training), Control group (scored less than or equal to 60% in the PSVT but did not receive targeted training) and those who scored above 60% (Other group). This critical score (60%) was selected based on the distribution of scores. The subjects were again tested using the same instruments at the end of the semesters and their scores compared to those obtained at the beginning of the semesters. The present study was intended to investigate the anatomy of the improvements that are noted with targeted training and/or taking a Computer Aided Design course, i.e. how the different spatial ability skills of a student improve. This is important because it will aid in the design of appropriate training programs that can provide targeted instruction to mitigate any spatial ability concerns.

In general, the results obtained show that there is no statistically significant difference between the Experimental and Control groups at the beginning of the semester for all categories of object shape and/or rotation/view type in the PSVT rotations and views sections. However, at the end of the semester some of the categories, such as single inclined objects (p=0.036), double axis rotations (p=0.016) and short 90 rotations (p=0.013) showed statistically significant differences with the Experimental group scoring higher than the Control group.


Onyancha, R., & Derov, M., & Kinsey, B. (2008, June), The Anatomy Of Spatial Ability Improvement Over The Course Of A Semester Long Computer Aided Design Class Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3482

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