Spatial ability is an important skill for design-based disciplines although sufficient attention is not always given to assessing and improving spatial ability. Spatial ability can be defined as the performance on tasks that require: the mental rotation of objects. ; the ability to understand how objects appear in different positions. ; and the ability to conceptualise how objects relate to each other in space. The design process involves many activities concerned with the creation, manipulation and articulation of shapes. Inherent in these activities is spatial ability. This study reports on a measure taken across first year university students from a range of design-based disciplines using six subtests considered representative of the spatial skills required by novice designers. Each subtest consisted of six items of varying difficulty. Results provide a profile of the skill level of participants and indicate performance sdarities and differences across disciplines and gender. 114 students participated from six disciplines including architecture, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering and technology teaching. Subtests were computer-based and recorded choice accuracy and response time. Results provide evidence to assist the current development of a comprehensive test of spatial ability and identified issues for the future development of spatial learning tasks.
5th Biennial International Conference on Technology Education Research. Exploring Technology Education: Solutions to Issues in a Globalised World (Surfers Paradise, Qld 27-29 November, 2008) p. 155-162