Developing 3-D Spatial Skills for non-engineering & K-12 StudentsPreliminary ResultsPaul Charlesworth, Lisa Parolini, & Sheryl SorbyMichigan Technological University, Houghton, MI
Introduction • Spatial visualization is considered to be one of seven human intelligences and is an active topic in educational research. • Based on previous research, two themes emerge: • Well-developed 3-D spatial skills are critical to success in STEM fields, and • The 3-D spatial skills of women typically lag significantly behind their male counterparts.
Gender Differences • Theories for gender differences: • Recessive characteristic of X-chromosome • Male sex hormone • Environmental factors • Truth is likely an interaction of many factors resulting in traditional stereotypes.
Spatial Skills Development • 1977 Guay. Purdue Spatial Visualization Test: Rotations. • 1989 Gimmestad. Pilot study at Michigan Tech using PSVT:R. • 1993 Baartmans and Sorby. NSF-funded textbook for 3-D Spatial Skills. • 1998 Sorby. NSF-funded software for 3-D Spatial Skills. • 2004 NSF-funded Gender Differences Study
Non-Engineering Students • 95% of MTU’s 6000 students study science, engineering, or technology • Study focuses on 170 non-engineering students • Student divided based on Purdue pretest • Workbook • Software • Workbook + Software • Regression to mean reduced by balancing scores
Survey Results 01 • No gender difference (p<0.37) regarding treatment • 62% of students preferred software only group • Females spent more time on each activity: • <30 mins (Male 40%, Female 21%) • >60 min (Male 9%, Female 35%) • Time spent on activity depended on activity: • 72% of software group <30 mins • 16% of workbook group <30 mins • 13% of workbook + software group <30 mins
Survey Results 02 • Male students expressed higher confidence levels: • Female students were more positive than males, by expressing higher levels of learning (p=0.03)
Conclusions • Students made statistically significant gains on tests that measure spatial skills • Groups using workbook achieved higher gains compared software alone • Gains for software group comparable to control • Gender differences in gains were not observed • Students preferred the intervention with lowest gains
Spatial Skills in K-12 Students • Small secondary school in a rural setting • At-risk and economically disadvantages students • 44% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch • Eight grade MEAP scores above state average • Eight grade class consists of 37 students • Study group consists of 16 students • All honor roll • 12 females and 4 males
Methodology • Students spent 2-3 days each week on a module • Each class period was 54 minutes each • Teacher previewed each modules introduction • Teacher observed and assisted students • Students worked in pairs on software & workbook • Students evaluated modules upon completion
Results • Majority of students felt: • That they understood the materials • That they had enough time to complete exercises • Preferred working with both software and workbook • Felt that working together helped • Gains in spatial skills (PSVT:R): • Average gain was 20.5% • Statistically significant (t-test, p<0.005)
Conclusions & Thanks • Spatial visualization training for college students is suitable for a younger audience • Amount of time required by 8th grade students was typically longer than college students • Results were used to design a full-scale study with middle and high school students (in progress). • A new instrument is being developed that combines elements from multiple spatial tests. • National Science Foundation Grant: HRD-0429020