Effect of Spatial Visualization on Learning Engineering Technology and Engineering Programs
2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition Proceedings
The distinction between undergraduate educational programs for engineering and engineering technology at many US institutions has led to different admission requirements for students applying to the two programs. This distinction is typically characterized by the adoption of different curricula, instructional approaches, a mix of lectures and laboratories, and textbooks. It is broadly expected that such an approach would facilitate the development of different domains of knowledge, ranging from
... more abstract and theoretical for engineering students to more applied and hands-on for engineering technology students. Considering the disproportionate differences in the spatial contents, tools of spatial representation, and associated spatial reasoning processes in fundamental courses such as solid mechanics or fluid dynamics, this study seeks to find a relationship, if any, between students' spatial abilities and their learning of key concepts in solid mechanics. The performance of engineering and engineering technology students in solid mechanics has been assessed in two fundamental courses, Statics and Strength of Materials, and their spatial abilities have been measured by the revised Purdue Spatial Visualization Rotation Test and the Santa Barbara Solids Test. The preliminary data analysis of the first cohort of students reveals that the adopted spatial ability instruments are less likely to detect the difference between engineering and engineering technology in learning solid mechanics courses. Although the literature indicates that a strong spatial ability is crucial to the success of first-year engineering students, it might play a diminishing role in students' learning as their academic seniority grows. This will be investigated in the near future by continuing the study and collecting data from different groups of students.