LONGITUDINAL ANALYSIS OF MENTAL ROTATION ABILITY AMONG STRUCTURAL GEOLOGY UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS
Bivariate analysis was conducted to determine the relationship between student performance and gender. The null hypothesis was that these variables were independent. Scores were divided into categories of high, moderately high, moderately low and low. For all three trials of the Mental Rotations Test, the obtained Chi-square values were below the critical value; therefore the null hypothesis was not rejected.
A focus group interview was conducted with the students. The interview data suggest that certain exercises, particularly three-point problems, contributed to their development of mental rotation skills in the course. However these students also self-indentified has having high levels of spatial skill and visual penetrative ability.
The results from the structural geology students will be compared to those of students from a petrology class in Spring 2011. These students have not yet taken structural geology. The potential differences between the two courses and longitudinal improvement among the petrology students will be tested. The relationship, if any, between mental rotation performance and gender in the petrology course will be determined.