Northeastern (46th Annual) and North-Central (45th Annual) Joint Meeting (20–22 March 2011)

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


DUDEK II, Richard E., Geology and Meteorology, Central Michigan University, Brooks Hall 314, Mount Pleasant, MI 48859 and FEIG, Anthony D., Department of Geography, Central Michigan University, CMU DOW 278, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48859,

A 20-question modified Mental Rotations Test was administered to an undergraduate structural geology class to determine their spatial skill development over the course. The relationship between gender and student performance was also examined. Three trials were administered at the beginning, middle, and the end of the course. Mean for Trial 1 = 9.53/20; Trial 2 = 10.26/20; Trial 3 =13.06/20. The scores of the three trials were compared using a t-test. The comparison between the first and third trials showed significant differences, but no significant differences between trial 1 and trial 2, and trial 2 and trial 3 were yielded.

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.