The results of several studies suggest that spatial ability can be improved through direct training with tasks similar to those integrated in the tests used to measure the ability. However, there is a greater interest in analyzing the effectiveness of indirect training such as games or of learning subjects that involve spatial processes to a certain extent. Thus, the objective of the present study was to analyze whether the indirect training in Technical Drawing improved the Spatial Visualization ability of Architecture students. For this purpose, a group of students enrolled in Fundamentals of Architecture were administered two tests, a Spatial Visualization task and an Abstract Reasoning task, at the beginning and the end of a semester, after having received training through the subjects “Technical Drawing I: Geometry and Perception” and “Projects I.” The results of this group were compared with those of a control group of students enrolled in a Mathematics degree, who were also pre-post evaluated but had not received the training in Technical Drawing. The study showed a significant pre-post improvement in both, Visualization and reasoning. However, this improvement occurred in both groups, thereby concluding that this improvement was not due to indirect training. Furthermore, no significant differences were found between men and women in any of the groups or conditions. These results clarify those of an earlier study where improvement in Visualization after training in Technical Drawing was found but did not include a comparison with a control condition. The control condition has proved to be important in order to consider the limitations of the effect of Technical Drawing on said improvement.
Spatial Visualization Abstract Reasoning Indirect training Technical Drawing STEM disciplines Sex differences
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access
This research falls under the research line for which M.J. Contreras and M. R. Elosúa have received financial support for the research Project EDU2013-46437-R from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
The ethics committee of the university (UNED) approved the study with written informed consent from all participants. Written consent was obtained from them, in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki.
Arrieta I, Medrano MC (2015) Un análisis de la capacidad espacial en estudios de ingeniería técnica [An Analysis of Spatial Ability in Technical Engineering Studies]. PNA 9(2):85–106Google Scholar
Baenninger M, Newcombe N (1989) The role of experience in spatial test performance: a meta-analysis. Sex Roles 20(5–6):327–344CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bennett GK, Wesman A, Seashore H, DAT-5 (2000) Test de aptitudes diferenciales: Versión 5 [Differential aptitude test, 5th edition]. Tea Ediciones, MadridGoogle Scholar
Cherney ID, Jagarlamudi K, Lawrence E, Shimabuku N (2003) Experiential factors in sex differences on mental rotation. Percept Mot Skills 96(3):1062–1070CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Cherney ID, Bersted K, Smetter J (2014) Training spatial skills in men and women. Percept Mot Skills 119(1):82–99CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Contreras MJ, Martínez-Molina A, Santacreu J (2012) Do the sex differences play such an important role in explaining performance in spatial tasks? Personal Individ Differ 52:659–663CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Echavarri M, Godoy JC, Olaz F (2007) Diferencias de género en habilidades cognitivas y rendimiento académico en estudiantes universitarios [Gender differences in cognitive skills and academic performance in college students]. Univ Psychol 6(2):319–329Google Scholar
Fernández-Méndez LM, Contreras MJ, Elosúa MR (2018) From what age is mental rotation training effective? Differences in preschool age but not in sex. Front Psychol (under review)Google Scholar
Ganley CM, Vasilyeva M, Dulaney A (2014) Spatial ability mediates the gender difference in middle school students’ science performance. Child Dev 85(4):1419–1432CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Hernández A, Ponsoda V, Muñiz J, Prieto G, Elosua P (2016) Revisión del modelo para evaluar la calidad de los tests utilizados en España [Assessing the quality of tests in spain: revision of the spanish test review model]. Papeles del Psicólogo 37:192–197Google Scholar
Linn MC, Petersen AC (1985) Emergence and characterization of sex differences in spatial ability: a meta-analysis. Child Dev 56(6):1479CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Lohman DF (2000) Complex information processing and intelligence. In: Sternberg RJ (ed) Handbook of human intelligence, 2nd edn. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 285–340CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Marulis LM, Liu LL, Warren CM, Uttal DH, Newcombe NS (2007) Effects of training or experience on spatial cognition in children and adults: a meta-analysis. Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Boston, MAGoogle Scholar
Patkin D, Dayan E (2013) The intelligence of observation: improving high school students’ spatial ability by means of intervention unit. Int J Math Educ Sci Technol 44(2):179–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Prieto G, Velasco AD (2002) Construção de um teste de visualização a partir da psicologia cognitiva desenho cognitivo de um teste de visualização [Construction of a visualization test based on cognitive psychology]. Aval Psicol 1(1):39–47Google Scholar
Prieto G, Velasco AD (2010) Does spatial visualization ability improve after studying technical drawing? Qual Quant Int J Methodol 44(5):1015–1024CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Primi R (2002) Complexity of geometric inductive reasoning tasks. Contribution to the understanding of fluid intelligence. Intelligence 30:41–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rasch G (1960) Probabilistic models for some intelligence and attainment tests. Danish Institute for Educational Research, CopenhagenGoogle Scholar
Rodán A, Gimeno P, Elosúa MR, Montoro PR, Contreras MJ (2018) Boys and Girls gain in spatial, but not in numerical ability after MR training in Primary education. Learn Individ Differ (under review)Google Scholar
Uttal DH, Meadow NG, Tipton E, Hand LL, Alden AR, Warren C, Newcombe NS (2013) The malleability of spatial skills: a meta-analysis of training studies. Psychol Bull 139(2):352–402CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar