Enhancing the visuo-spatial aptitude of students



Research to date has not been able to agree whether visuo-spatial ability can be influenced through practice. Many have concluded that spatial awareness is an innate phenomena and cannot be learned. Others contend that an individual's visuo-spatial potentials are acquired through interactions with the environment. Many of these theorists believe that spatial thinking can be developed through interactive exercises devised to encourage mental image formation and manipulation. To help alleviate the confusion surrounding this question the following study was undertaken. Eighty-four college undergraduates were randomly placed into control and experimental sections. Student records were examined to assure that the groups did not differ significantly in their verbal or math proficiency and pertinent pretests were given to ascertain spatial levels. The groups were also similar on their male and female ratios. During the semester the experimental section was treated to a 30-minute interaction each week. These sessions involved spatial exercises that required the participants to mentally bisect three-dimensional geometric figures and to envision the shape of the two-dimensional surface formed by the bisection. The subjects drew their mental image of this surface on a sheet of paper. Fourteen weeks later both groups were post tested with a second comparable version of the pretest. Statistical “t” tests were performed on the group means to see if significant differences developed between the sections. The results indicate that statistical improvement in visuo-spatial cognition did occur for the experimental group in spatial visualization, and spatial orientation. This finding suggests that the weekly intervention sessions had a positive effect on the students' visuo-spatial awareness. These results, therefore, tend to support those researchers that claim visuo-spatial aptitude can be enhanced through teaching.