Maiorana, Sara A.
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This research investigates how college students’ spatial skills vary by age, gender, college major and additional factors. Specifically, it explores students’ abilities to visualize two-dimensional air nets corresponding to two-dimensional illustrations of three-dimensional cubes. Also, this study examines how the use of a tangible air net manipulative affects performance. During this study, students answered a five-problem quiz involving matching and creating two-dimensional air nets for a given cube and vice versa. The results of the assessment were compared to those from a survey on the students’ age, gender, college major, ethnicity, and students’ perceptions of which problems were the most difficult and least difficult. It was hypothesized that male mathematics majors with access to a manipulative would perform best on the given spatial skills problems. The results of this study indicated that gender and college major had no statistical significance in spatial ability test score. Additional results revealed that there was a significant difference in test score by class, particularly with the use of a manipulative, and that the most difficult problem and least difficult problem on the assessment were both of the unfolding-type spatial ability task. These findings have noteworthy implications for in-service and pre-service mathematics teachers, particularly at the secondary level, regarding lesson planning and implementation when teaching spatial reasoning.
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