May 18, 2015 | Posted in Research | By

The effects of technological applications (SketchUp and 3D printers) on visual-spatial knowledge of high school students at risk

Samuel Y. Choo, Ph.D. Candidate
University of Kentucky


The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of using computer-aided drafting (CAD) software (e.g., SketchUp) and 3D printers to improve the visual-spatial skills of high school students at risk. A total of 22 high school students attending an alternative school in central Kentucky participated in this study. Students first learned computer-aided drafting skills and then solved contextualized, or hands-on, problems with the use of 3D printers. A 16 question multiple-choice assessment, called Spatial Thinking Ability Test (STAT: Association of American Geographers, 2006), was administered to examine the effects of CAD instruction combined with the use of 3D printers. The results from pre- and post-test were analyzed using a paired t test.

A paired t-test analysis indicated that there was strong evidence (t = 2.107, p = .047) that CAD instruction and the use of 3D printers improved visual-spatial skills among high school students at risk. On average, the improvement of students visual-spatial skill was statistically significant from pre-test (M = 6.64, SE = .908) to post-test (M = 7.95, SE = 1.029), t(21) = 2.107, p < .05, r = .42.

Over the past several years, 3D printers and CAD software have been recognized to have potential benefits in the education fields (Slavkovsky, 2012). 3D printers and CAD software already a part of many schools curriculum, especially in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and continue to have a significant impact on students’ academic performance and their everyday lives (Lacey, 2010). However, there has been no curriculum-based instruction with the use of these technological applications implemented for at-risk students to date. This study might be one of the first attempts to enable at-risk students to compensate in areas where they lack the necessary learning skills.

Keywords: at-risk students, computer-aided draft (CAD), 3D printers, visual-spatial

Copyright © 2015 Samuel Choo, Ph.D. Candidate. All rights reserved.


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