A comparison of two forms of spatial ability development treatment

Patrick E Connolly, Purdue University


This research study examined the effectiveness of two forms of spatial ability development exercises in an engineering graphics environment. The spatial ability exercises consisted of two-dimensional to three dimensional and three-dimensional to two-dimensional multiview drawing exercises as one form of treatment, and three-dimensional Boolean intersection exercises as the second form of treatment. Both treatments were entirely paper-based, and the exercises included a manual sketching component as part of each assignment. The experimental design for this study was a crossover design, wherein each of the two treatment groups received a different form of spatial exercise treatment for three weeks, then received the other treatment for an additional three week period. The Kit of Factor-referenced Cognitive Tests battery was used as a pretest instrument prior to the first round of treatment, after the first treatment period as a posttest instrument, and after the second treatment period as a second posttest. The purpose of these test instruments was to measure any difference in cognitive ability during the treatment period. Participants in the study were undergraduate students, primarily first and second year students, from several academic majors in the engineering and technology fields of study.^ Results of the study showed increases in spatial ability from both types of treatment, regardless of gender or academic major of the participants. These improvements were more pronounced for the second treatment period than for the first, suggesting that a longer learning/practice period may be more beneficial to students. The order of treatment was not found to be significant. A majority of students expressed a preference for multiview drawing exercises over Boolean exercises for several reasons, including previous experience, applicability to future job tasks, sketching skill limitations, and spatial problem-solving methodologies. ^




Timothy J. Newby, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Education, Curriculum and Instruction

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