skip to main content


Title: Parallel Form Reliability Analysis of a Tactile Mental Cutting Test for Assessing Spatial Ability in Blind and Low-vision Populations
There is ever-growing research indicating that high spatial ability correlates with student and professional success in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses and career fields. A few valid and reliable testing instruments have been developed to measure specific constructs of spatial thinking in sighted populations. However, due to a lack of accessibility, most of these testing instruments are unable to be utilized by blind or low-vision (BLV) populations.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1712887
NSF-PAR ID:
10437195
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. There is significant work indicating that spatial ability has correlations to student success in STEM programs. Work also shows that spatial ability correlates to professional success in respective STEM fields. Spatial ability has thus been a focus of research in engineering education for some time. Spatial interventions have been developed to improve student’s spatial ability that range from physical manipulatives to the implementation of entire courses. These interventions have had positive impact upon student success and retention. Currently, researchers rely on a variety of different spatial ability instruments to quantify participants spatial ability. Researchers classify an individual’s spatial ability as the performance indicated by their results on such an instrument. It is recognized that this measured performance is constrained by the spatial construct targeted with that spatial instrument. As such, many instruments are available for the researchers use to assess the variety of constructs of spatial ability. Examples include the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test of Rotations (PSVTR), the Mental Cutting Test (MCT), and the Minnesota Paper Foam Board Test. However, at this time, there are no readily accessible spatial ability instruments that can be used to assess spatial ability in a blind or low vision population (BLV). Such an instrument would not only create an instrument capable of quantifying the impacts of spatially focused interventions upon BLV populations but also gives us a quantitative method to assess the effectiveness of spatial curriculum for BLV students. Additionally, it provides a method of assessing spatial ability development from tactile perspective, a new avenue for lines of research that expand beyond the visual methods typically used. This paper discusses the development of the Tactile Mental Cutting Test (TMCT), a non-visually accessible spatial ability instrument, developed and used with a BLV population. Data was acquired from individuals participating in National Federation of the Blind (NFB) Conventions across the United States as well as NFB sponsored summer engineering programs. The paper reports on a National Science Foundation funded effort to garner initial research findings on the application of the TMCT. It reports on initial findings of the instrument’s validity and reliability, as well as the development of the instrument over the first three years of this project. 
    more » « less
  2. The Survey of Attitudes Toward Statistics (SATS) is a widely used family of instruments for measuring attitude constructs in statistics education. Since the development of the SATS instruments, there has been an evolution in the understanding of validity in the field of educational measurement emphasizing validation as an on-going process. While a 2012 review of statistics education attitude instruments noted that the SATS family had the most validity evidence, two types of challenges to the use of these instruments have emerged: challenges to the interpretations of scale scores and challenges using the SATS instruments in populations other than undergraduate students enrolled in introductory statistics courses. A synthesis of the literature and empirical results are used to document these challenges. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Surface soil moisture (SSM) has been identified as a key climate variable governing hydrologic and atmospheric processes across multiple spatial scales at local, regional, and global levels. The global burgeoning of SSM datasets in the past decade holds a significant potential in improving our understanding of multiscale SSM dynamics. The primary issues that hinder the fusion of SSM data from disparate instruments are (1) different spatial resolutions of the data instruments, (2) inherent spatial variability in SSM caused due to atmospheric and land surface controls, and (3) measurement errors caused due to imperfect retrievals of instruments. We present a data fusion scheme which takes all the above three factors into account using a Bayesian spatial hierarchical model (SHM), combining a geostatistical approach with a hierarchical model. The applicability of the fusion scheme is demonstrated by fusing point, airborne, and satellite data for a watershed exhibiting high spatial variability in Manitoba, Canada. We demonstrate that the proposed data fusion scheme is adept at assimilating and predicting SSM distribution across all three scales while accounting for potential measurement errors caused due to imperfect retrievals. Further validation of the algorithm is required in different hydroclimates and surface heterogeneity as well as for other data platforms for wider applicability.

     
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    Soil biocrusts are characterized by the spatial self-organization of resident microbial populations at small scales. The cyanobacterium Microcoleus vaginatus, a prominent primary producer and pioneer biocrust former, relies on a mutualistic carbon (C) for nitrogen (N) exchange with its heterotrophic cyanosphere microbiome, a mutualism that may be optimized through the ability of the cyanobacterium to aggregate into bundles of trichomes. Testing both environmental populations and representative isolates, we show that the proximity of mutualistic diazotroph populations results in M. vaginatus bundle formation orchestrated through chemophobic and chemokinetic responses to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) /glutamate (Glu) signals. The signaling system is characterized by: a high GABA sensitivity (nM range) and low Glu sensitivity (μM to mM), the fact that GABA and Glu are produced by the cyanobacterium as an autoinduction response to N deficiency, and by the presence of interspecific signaling by heterotrophs in response to C limitation. Further, it crucially switches from a positive to a negative feedback loop with increasing GABA concentration, thus setting maximal bundle sizes. The unprecedented use of GABA/Glu as an intra- and interspecific signal in the spatial organization of microbiomes highlights the pair as truly universal infochemicals.

     
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Hundreds of studies have explored student evolution acceptance because evolution is a core concept of biology that many undergraduate biology students struggle to accept. However, this construct of “evolution acceptance” has been defined and measured in various ways, which has led to inconsistencies across studies and difficulties in comparing results from different studies. Many studies and essays have offered evaluations and perspectives of evolution acceptance instruments, but publications with a focus on consensus building across research teams is still needed. Further, little attention has been paid to how evolution acceptance instruments may be interpreted differently by students with varied religious backgrounds. Funded by a Research Coordination Network in Undergraduate Biology Education grant from the National Science Foundation, we gathered 16 experts from different disciplinary and religious backgrounds to review current evolution acceptance instruments and create a guide to the strengths and weaknesses of these instruments, including appropriate contexts for using these instruments and their potential weaknesses with different religious populations. Finally, in an attempt to move the field forward, we articulated a consensus definition of evolution acceptance that can be used to guide future instrument development.

     
    more » « less