Application of Online Visual-Spatial Training to Increase Visual-Spatial Ability and Growth Mindset of Engineering Students

Molly Hathaway Goldstein, John Mark Froiland, Ziang Xiao, Brian S. Woodard, Tao Li, Michael L. Philpott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The preponderance of growth mindset intervention studies focus on elevating a growth mindset by teaching students that the mind is like a muscle and that it grows stronger through rigorous mental exercise. But, there is also the potential to elevate a growth mindset via strengthening intelligence. Spatial visualization promotes successful engineering performance and many college students would benefit from improved visual-spatial ability. The primary objective of this study was to examine whether a brief online workshop that teaches visual-spatial skills (e.g., mental rotation) would increase both visual-spatial ability and a growth mindset for spatial intelligence. This study included 296 undergraduate mechanical, systems, industrial, and aerospace engineering students that participated in a total of 3.5 hours of a workshop that trained students in visual-spatial thinking over the course of 7 weeks. Outcome measures included pre/post Purdue Spatial Visualization Test-Visualization of Rotations (PSVT:R) and pre/post growth mindset for spatial intelligence. Paired sample t-tests indicated that students improved significantly from pre to post-workshop on both mental rotations (Cohen’s d = 0.38) and growth mindset (d = 0.33). Women improved as much as men on both measures. This study suggests that an online visual-spatial intervention can efficiently promote stronger visual-spatial ability and a growth mindset.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1674-1682
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Volume37
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • college students
  • growth mindset
  • intervention
  • STEM
  • visual-spatial ability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Engineering

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