Experiences in using spatial skills testing instruments with younger audiences

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Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics; Department of Mathematical Sciences


As graphics educators, we routinely test the 3-D spatial skills of our university-aged students using standardized instruments such as the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test: Rotations (PSVT:R), the Mental Cutting Test (MCT), the Mental Rotation Test (MRT), and the Differential Aptitude Test: Space Relations (DAT:SR). These tests were developed and validated primarily with older subjects and have not been used significantly with younger audiences. At Michigan Technological University, we have been offering a course aimed at improving the 3-D spatial skills of our first-year engineering students since 1993, but with proper training at the pre-college level, the need for our course should be diminished. Spatial skills are a part of the national standards for K-12 math education in the US; however, most teachers have been hesitant to include spatial skills training in their pre-college mathematics courses due to a lack of suitable materials for that audience. Further, with the current emphasis on testing in the US, teachers will need to be able to show that spatial skills interventions improve test scores. As part of a research study funded by the National Science Foundation in the US focused on improving the 3-D spatial skills of middle school and high school students, who typically range from 13-years old to 17-years old, the standardized testing instruments were modified and tested with these audiences. This paper describes the types of modifications made to the testing instruments and details the results obtained from using them to assess 3-D spatial skills among younger students.

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Copyright 2006 Heldermann Verlag. Publisher's version of record: http://www.heldermann.de/JGG/JGG10/JGG102/jgg10020.htm

Publication Title

Journal for Geometry and Graphics