Preparing K-12 Students for Engineering Studies by Improving 3-D Spatial Skills

By Kedmon N. Hungwe, Sheryl Sorby, Thomas Drummer and Ray Molzon.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Well-developed 3-D spatial skills have been shown to be important for success in a number of technological fields including engineering, medicine, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, and architecture. Michigan Technological University has been offering a remedial course since 1993 aimed at improving the 3-D spatial skills of first-year engineering students, particularly women. In 1998, through funding from the National Science Foundation, multimedia software and a workbook were developed in support of the spatial skills course. In 2003, additional funding was received to test the materials with middle and high school audiences. The objectives of the current study are to determine the extent to which the materials created for college students are age appropriate for younger students for improving 3-D spatial skills, particularly for girls. The materials were tested in a pilot study of middle school students (age ~13) and subsequently with middle and high school students (age ~16). Pre- and post-tests were administered to determine the impact of the materials on students’ skills. The students also evaluated each module of the software and workbook to assess ease of use, ease of understanding, and general impressions. The paper describes the studies conducted with younger audiences and will present initial findings.

Keywords: Gender Differences, K-12 Students, Multimedia Software, Three-dimensional Spatial Skills

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp.127-136. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 707.760KB).

Dr. Kedmon N. Hungwe

Assistant Professor, Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan, USA

Dr Hungwe is an assistant professor in science education. His research interests are: integration of technology in instruction, pedagogy in science education, and media and communication.

Dr. Sheryl Sorby

Professor, Engineering Fundamentals, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan, USA

Professor, Engineering Fundamentals. Dr Sorby has established a research program in spatial visualization at Michigan Tech University. She has published more than 60 papers in journals and conference proceedings and is the author of six textbooks.

Dr. Thomas Drummer

Professor, Department of Mathematical Sciences, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan, USA

Professor, Mathematical Sciences. His research interests include statistical ecology, model-based sampling, and applications of statistics to wildlife management

Ray Molzon

Department of Mathematical Sciences, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan, USA


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