Spatial Skills Decline

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The spatial abilities employed in careers such as architecture and engineering have declined among high-school seniors in the past 20 years, according to a study by the Educational Testing Service.

The study compared 1980 test results of a randomly selected nationwide sample of high-school seniors at public, private, and parochial schools with those of a similar group of students who took the examination in 1960.

The test, "Visualization in Three Dimensions," consists of 16 questions asking students to select those objects that could be made by folding or twisting drawings of flattened geometric forms.

The study found that high-school seniors tested in 1980 performed at the same level as high-school freshmen tested in 1960. The average score for seniors in 1960 was 9.1 correct answers; in 1980, it was 7.7.

Students today take fewer courses that emphasize spatial relationships--like trigonometry and mechanical drawing--than their peers of 20 years ago, and that may partially account for the drop in test scores, said Thomas L. Hilton, a research scientist at the ets--lo

Vol. 04, Issue 42

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