SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Abstract

Preliminary data (Bodner and McMillen, 1986) suggested a correlation between spatial ability and performance in a general chemistry course for science and engineering majors. This correlation was seen not only on highly spatial tasks such as predicting the structures of ionic solids (r = 0.29), but also on tasks such as multiple-choice stoichiometry questions (r = 0.32) that might not be expected to involve spatial skills. To further investigate the relationship between spatial ability and performance in introductory chemistry courses, two spatial tests were given to 1648 students in a course for science and engineering majors (Carter, 1984) and 850 students in a course for students from nursing and agriculture (La-Russa, 1985) at Purdue. Scores on the spatial tests consistently contributed a small but significant amount to success on measures of performance in chemistry. Correlations were largest, however, for subscores that grouped questions that tested problem solving skills rather than rote memory or the application of simple algorithms, and correlations were also large for verbally complex questions thaty required the students to disembed and restructure relevant information.