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The Haptic Abilities Of A Sample Of Minority Engineering And Technology Students

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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

Graphics and Visualization

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1233.1 - 13.1233.7



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Paper Authors

author page

Nancy Study Virginia State University

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

The Haptic Abilities of a Sample of Minority Engineering & Technology Students


Minority engineering and technology students at an HBCU who had low visualization abilities as indicated by their test scores on the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test were found to have, as a group, average haptic abilities as measured by the Haptic Visual Discrimination Test. However, in an initial study, approximately 17 percent of the subjects were below average, with some individual scores indicating moderate to severe problems with sensory integration. Because the primary methods of improving these students’ visualization abilities have involved sketching and other hands-on or haptic activities, the low scores of several individuals were cause for concern. Additional testing was done on a larger group of students and the mean score for the group was again found to be within the normal range. There were still several students who tested below the mean. This paper discusses the significance of those results and their possible affect on instruction, particularly the impact on attempts to improve the visualization abilities of these students


Historically, incoming engineering and technology students at this university have tested significantly below average in their visualization abilities as measured by the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test (PSVT). The low visualization abilities of these students were improved by adding a variety of activities including sketching and manipulation of physical objects in introductory CAD courses1. The incorporation of hands on experiences can increase opportunities for the students to create mental models, which they may then relate to different academic areas2. Tactile interaction with physical objects can enhance visualization of scientific data3 and the use of three-dimensional handheld models has been recommended to aid in the development of spatial visualization abilities4.

A previous study of haptic abilities of freshman engineering students at a predominantly non- minority institution found that visualization abilities and haptic abilities are not mutually exclusive although some research attempts to categorize students as either haptic or visual or neither. Subjects who have average visualization abilities may also have haptic abilities that are above the mean5. In an initial study, the Haptic Visual Discrimination Test (HVDT) was administered to a small sample of minority engineering and technology students whose visualization abilities based on test scores on the PSVT were significantly below the mean6. In the initial study, students’ scores on the HVDT centered around the normed mean for their age group with a few outliers both significantly above and below the mean. The study was repeated on a larger group of students with similar results.

Student Demographics

The subjects in the current study were all engineering or technology majors enrolled in a variety of drafting and design courses at an HBCU. Of the 31 students in this study, the average age was

Study, N. (2008, June), The Haptic Abilities Of A Sample Of Minority Engineering And Technology Students Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3755

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