June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
June 19, 2019
Through numerous studies, spatial skills have been shown to be important to overall success in engineering; however, most studies have focused on overall rather than specific areas of success. In this study, we examined the relationship between scores on a test of spatial visualization and a specific area of success—problem-solving in chemical engineering. Our overall quest included determining if a relationship exists between spatial ability and solving problems in chemical engineering; and if there is, what is the nature of such a relationship? In addition, we also wanted to know, how that relationship relates, to previous work on overall success in chemical engineering with respect to spatial skills? We tested students in a junior level chemical engineering thermodynamics course using a test of spatial visualization, the Mental Cutting Test (MCT). The test has twenty-five items and students were given 20 minutes to solve the test. Students were then presented with 13 problems from a sophomore-level chemical engineering course and were given 70 minutes to solve these over two class periods. All students had the same amount of time for solving problems with the assumption that those with better problem-solving skills would likely correctly solve a larger number of problems compared to the weaker students. Results indicate a strong correlation between the number of correct chemical engineering problems and the MCT results (R2 = 0.34435, p < 0.0001). Additionally, there were indications that spatial skills may be more relevant in solving some types of problems compared to others, and problem representation may be a strong indicator of success in chemical engineering problem solving. That is, those students with high levels of spatial ability are better at problem representation, which enables them to be more successful problem solvers. In this paper, the project results are presented along with a detailed analysis of student performance on two of the 13 problems.
Loney, N. W., & Duffy, G., & Sorby, S. A. (2019, June), The Relationship Between Spatial Skills and Solving Problems in Chemical Engineering Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/33419
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