The ability to visualize in three dimensions is a cognitive skill that has been shown to be important for success in many STEM fields. For instance, in engineering, the ability to mentally rotate 3-D objects is especially important. Unfortunately, of all the cognitive skills, 3-D rotation abilities exhibit robust gender differences, favoring males. The assessment of 3-D spatial skills and associated gender differences has been a topic of educational research for nearly a century; however, a great deal of the previous work has been aimed at merely identifying differences. Sheryl Sorby’s research aims to identify practical methods for improving 3-D spatial skills, especially for female students. This presentation details the significant findings obtained over the past several years through this research and identifies strategies that appear to be effective in developing 3-D spatial skills and in contributing to student success.
Dr. Sheryl Sorby is a Professor of Engineering Education at The Ohio State University. She is the former Associate Dean for Academic Programs in the College of Engineering at Michigan Technological University and chair of the Engineering Fundamentals Department. She also served at the National Science Foundataion as a Program Director in the Division of Undergraduate Education. She received a BS in Civil Engineering, an MS in Engineering Mechanics, and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, all from Michigan Tech.
Dr. Sorby has a well-established research program in spatial visualization and has received numerous grants from the NSF to further her work in developing and assessing 3-D spatial skills. Her spatial skills curriculum has been adopted by nearly 30 engineering programs across the United States. In 2005 she received the Betty Vetter award for Research on Women in Engineering for her work in improving the 3-D spatial skills of engineering students. She has published more than 150 papers in journals and conference proceedings and is the author of seven textbooks.
Guests outside of Temple University are invited to register here.