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Title: An Analysis of Low-Scoring Blind and Low Vision Individuals; Selected Answers on a Tactile Spatial Ability Instrument
Spatial ability has been shown through numerous studies to be a strong predictor of student success in STEM fields. Beyond the classroom, professionals demonstrating higher levels of spatial ability are also more likely to be successful in their STEM careers than their peers with lower spatial ability. Research has also shown that spatial ability is a malleable skill that can be strengthened through targeted intervention and leads to better retention in rigorous STEM fields. For this reason, spatial ability has been a significant focus of engineering education research. Despite the focus on spatial ability in engineering education research, members of the blind and low vision (BLV) population have largely been omitted from research in this area, likely due to the lack of a nonvisually accessible instrument for measuring spatial ability in a tactile format. This work utilizes the Tactile Mental Cutting Test (TMCT), a fully accessible adaptation of the commonly used multiple-choice Mental Cutting Test (MCT) spatial ability instrument which requires participants to identify cross sectional outlines from a three-dimensional object with a cut through it. This paper explores data collected from BLV participants who completed a TMCT test at National Federation of the Blind (NFB) sponsored summer programs for BLV youth, blindness training centers, and state and national NFB conventions. Raw scores from each TMCT participant were analyzed and ranked into high, medium, and low performing groups to help identify main characteristics of each group. In this study we examined patterns in the selected answer choices of the low scoring group to determine frequency of participant selection of distractors for each item of the TMCT. Analysis of the low-performer scores indicate that the majority of low scoring participants select incorrect answer choices that represent a side view or top view of the TMCT object as opposed to the true cross-sectional shape. Furthermore, the results suggest that certain answer choices may be overly difficult to distinguish between due to the tactile format of the exam. Results from this study can inform academia of the inherent differences between tactile and traditional spatial ability instruments and aid in the design of new tactile instruments.  more » « less
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2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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