Long-term Impact of Improving Visualization Abilities of Minority Engineering and Technology Students: Preliminary Results
AbstractPrevious studies found that students enrolled in introductory engineering graphics courses at a historically black university (HBCU) had significantly lower than average test scores on the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test: Visualization of Rotations (PSVT) when it was administered during the first week of class. Since the ability to visualize is linked with success in engineering and technology studies, changes to the courses were made that resulted in improvement of these students’ visualization abilities. Activities included the use of sketching, blocks and multimedia. It was hypothesized that improving the students’ visualization abilities would also improve their overall academic success. Retention in the major and graduation rates of minorities in STEM related fields tend to be lower than their non-minority peers, especially so at HBCUs. To assess the long-term impact of visualization remediation on student success in engineering and technology majors, data was collected on students in a test group and also those in a control group who enrolled in other sections of the engineering graphics courses. Statistics were compared for overall GPA and grades in math and physics courses. Other data gathered included whether the students were retained in the major and at the university. Significant differences were found in the students’ GPAs with higher averages earned by those students in the test group. Also a higher percentage of students in the test group were retained both in an engineering or technology major and at the university even if they did change their major.
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