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Using The Purdue Spatial Visualization Test To Predict Success In Statics

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



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Page Numbers

6.1124.1 - 6.1124.6

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Otto Helweg

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

Session 2793

Using the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test to Predict Success in Statics

Otto J. Helweg North Dakota State University


There has been considerable research concerning the relationship between spatial visualization skills and success in engineering studies. These studies have looked at gender differences in spatial visualization ability (using various tests such as the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test, PSVT) and the correlation between this ability and (usually) engineering graphics. This paper is an interim report concerning an ongoing study at North Dakota State University to replicate the results of the literature with special regards to skills in the first course in vector mechanics, statics. Preliminary findings show a very weak correlation between the PSVT and success in statics, which would seen to indicate that success on the PSVT is not a good predictor of success in this course.

I. Introduction

There is certainly an incentive to discover basic skills that can improve learning in engineering courses. Engineering programs suffer from high drop-out rates, especially among female students.1 Many researchers have studied this extensively. Sorby Baartmans at Michigan Technological University sought to identify and improve spatial visualization skills among female engineering students.2 A recent paper chronicles the success of a course designed to improve spatial visualization skills.3 They have found considerable success in improving these skills in both men and women, though the women, who on the average start out with lower skills, realize greater improvement. Gimmestad studied gender differences in spatial visualization and success in engineering design courses, finding weaker visualization skills among female students.4 In a more general approach, Peters, Chisholm, and Laeng studied the correlation between spatial ability and general academic success, also dealing with gender.5

Other researchers have investigated ways spatial visualization skills effect success in various courses. The most obvious of these are courses dealing in engineering graphics. Hsi, Linn, and Bello, conducted a five-year study in how improving spatial visualization and reasoning skills effected engineering graphics.6 The correlation was low (r = 0.35) but statistically significant (p < 0.05). A similar study was done by Pleck, et. al.7

Another group of researchers has examined the causes of differences in spatial visualization skills. For example, Deno looked into how different childhood environments effected these

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ©, American Society for Engineering Education

Helweg, O. (2001, June), Using The Purdue Spatial Visualization Test To Predict Success In Statics Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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