One of ENGAGE's key strategies to improve undergraduate retention in engineering is to encourage engineering schools to assess first year students' spatial skills and provide training for those students with weaker skills.
- Strong spatial visualization skills are cognitive skills that are linked to success in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Well-developed math and verbal skills are universally recognized as necessary for success in STEM and the National Science Board maintains that spatial skills should be added to this list.
- Poor performance on spatial-visualization tasks can directly affect studentsâ€™ perceptions of self-efficacy, (e.g. belief in ones capability to succeed in engineering), particularly among women and individuals from lower socioeconomic groups.
- Research has demonstrated that training is an effective way to improve spatial visualization skills. In the area of mental rotation where the largest gender gap in performance exists, training has been effective as well.
- Students who failed the PSVT:R and enrolled in spatial skills training were able to improve their scores on the mental rotation test from approximately 50% to 77% or higher than students who failed the test and did not enroll in the course. These students also got better grades in 1st year engineering, mathematics and science courses.
- If you are interested in finding out how you can get involved in this effort, check out the Spatial Visualization FAQs, Research and Resources.