The Role of Spatial-Visual Skills in a Project-Based Engineering Design Course
Author(s)Tseng, Tiffany; Yang, Maria
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Although spatial-visual skills have been found to be a strong predictor of success in and aptitude for engineering practice and related technical fields, comparatively little research has been conducted on its function in engineering coursework, particularly engineering design. The purpose of this study was to examine the role of spatial-visual skills in a core undergraduate mechanical engineering design course requiring each student to design and build a robot to accomplish a complex task in a competition. The researchers hypothesized that students with higher spatial abilities would produce more complex designs (although complexity is not necessarily desirable); as spatial abilities are associated with understanding how physical objects can be assembled, students with high spatial ability may be better able to understand and design intricate integrated systems. The Purdue Spatial Visualization test was administered to 137 students (79 male, 58 female) at the start of the course, and these results were analyzed with self- assessments of each student’s experience in tasks associated with spatial skills (such as creating origami models, sketching, and creating CAD models), the complexity of their produced robot, and their robots’ performance in the culminating class competition.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Mechanical Engineering
Proceedings of the 118th ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Session Title: Design Communications & Cognition I, June 26-29, 2011.
American Society for Engineering Education
Tseng, Tiffany and Maria Yang. "The Role of Spatial-Visual Skills in a Project-Based Engineering Design Course." in Proceedings of the 118th ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, June 26-29, 2011, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Author's final manuscript