A Study on the Relation among Mathematical - Spatial - Verbal Abilities and Gender Differences of Engineering Students

공과대학생들의 수리 - 공간 - 언어 능력 사이의 관계 및 성별 차이에 관한 연구

  • Received : 2015.06.02
  • Accepted : 2015.07.27
  • Published : 2015.07.31

Abstract

Mathematical, spatial, and verbal abilities are important for future engineers to succeed in the STEM disciplines. The purpose of the study is to assess engineering students' spatial abilities and analyse the relationship with mathematical achievement, verbal achievement, and gender. On the mental rotation tests, 65% of male students demonstrated a substantial level of spatial abilities. But only 30% of female students exhibited spatial skills at the same level as their male colleagues. The correlations between mathematical - spatial - verbal abilities are found to be negligible. When spatial visualization ability was plotted according to the mathematical achievement level, there was no difference in the mean spatial abilities score. But when mathematical achievement score was plotted according to the spatial abilities, there was a noticeable difference. Regression analysis confirmed that female students' mathematical achievement increased as spatial abilities improved. This phenomenon was not observed for male students. It's because male students' spatial ability already contributed to their mathematics achievement. So spatial ability can be regarded as one factor for the gender differences in mathematics achievement. The gender gap on spatial abilities and math achievement is large among high achieving students. For example, there was a 4.3 to 1 male - female ratio and 3.4 to 1 male - female ratio among students scoring 99th percentile in spatial visualization test and scholastic aptitude test-math.

Keywords

spatial ability;gender differences;mental rotation;holistic vs analytic(serial) strategies

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Acknowledgement

Supported by : 홍익대학교