Title page for ETD etd-07032012-131830

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Liner, Michael Shawn
URN etd-07032012-131830
Title Spatial Ability and Achievement in High School Physics
Degree Master of Natural Sciences (M.N.S.)
Department Natural Sciences (Interdepartmental Program)
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Slezak, Cyrill Committee Chair
Butler, Les Committee Member
Moreno, Juana Committee Member
  • physics
  • education
  • high school
Date of Defense 2012-06-29
Availability unrestricted
This study investigates the relationship between a studentís spatial abilities and their success in high school physics. First, I investigate whether the success of students in high school physics class correlates with their spatial abilities before taking the class. Second, I investigate whether taking high school physics has an effect on studentís spatial abilities. No direct intervention was given to any of the students.

Three instruments were administered to determine the studentís spatial abilities, The Perspective Taking/Spatial Orientation Test (Hegarty & Waller, 2004), The Mental Rotation Test (Peters & Laeng, 1995), and The Paper Folding Test (Ekstrom, French, Harmon, & Derman, 1976). Students were also evaluated on their pre-conceived notions of force and motion using the Force Concept Inventory (Hestenes, Wells, & Swackhamer, 1992). These four instruments as well as the studentís course test averages were evaluated to determine correlation. Results show that there may have been an improvement in spatial abilities as measured by the Mental Rotation Test in the AP course (n=17,p<0.05). However, I did not find any correlation to pre-existing spatial abilities and performance in the course

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