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  1. 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. 
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  2. Historically, spatial ability assessments have been used to measure spatial thinking on specific constructs in students participating in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses. High spatial ability is linked to greater performance in STEM courses and professional STEM career fields. A spatial ability test used commonly for this measurement is the Mental Cutting Test (MCT) developed in 1939 by the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB). Unfortunately, the MCT is unable to measure the spatial thinking of blind or low-vision (BLV) populations due to the test being only accessible by sight. In 2018, a research lab from Utah State University (USU) adapted the MCT into a fully accessible tactile version, called the Tactile Mental Cutting Test (TMCT). The test was later split into two parallel forms, each containing 12 different questions from the MCT. The TMCT allows for researchers to better measure and understand the spatial abilities of BLV populations. The majority of BLV population samples that have taken the TMCT previously have been participants in training centers for the blind, which serve as training centers for helping BLV populations to build blindness skills and encourage independence. Additional data has been collected from youth camps sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and national and state NFB conventions. During the pandemic of COVID-19, many training centers across the country were closed for safety reasons, and many of the BLV population were confined to their homes to avoid infection risk. In this paper we compare pre-COVID-19 and post-2021 TMCT assessment data from BLV participants including scores and test duration between 2019 and 2022. Results show a statistically significant difference in how long it took participants to complete the TMCT between the two timeframes. 
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  3. 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. 
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