Pictorial Visual Rotation Ability of Engineering Design Graphics Students
The ability to rotate visual mental images is a complex cognitive skill. It requires the building of graphical libraries of information through short or long term memory systems and the subsequent retrieval and manipulation of these towards a specified goal. The development of mental rotation skill is of critical importance within engineering design graphics. It promotes the ability to comprehend complex engineering drawings, communicate design ideas through freehand sketching, and develop CAD modeling strategies. Considering this, exploratory development research was conducted in efforts to investigate student ability levels measured by parallel pictorial items of an existing geometric mental rotation measure. Images of rotated general consumer objects were captured and composed in a corresponding format to that of the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test: Visualization of Rotations. An expert review panel from engineering/technical graphics was convened to analyze consistency of format, rotation, and solutions of the corresponding pictorial items instrument. A group of post-secondary Engineering Design Graphics students were randomly administered the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test: Visualization of Rotations where the remainder of the group was administered the pictorial item instrument. The developed pictorial instrument represented orientation familiarity, while geometric forms in the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test: Visualization of Rotations represented unfamiliar structures. Comparative analyses were conducted and differences identified pertaining to student abilities in mental rotation of geometric forms and pictorial visual rotation abilities. Summary statistics, frequency analyses, and hypothesis testing uncovered that student mental rotation abilities of geometric forms collectively exceeds that of pictorial rotation ability.