Strategies and difficulties in solving spatial visualization problems: a case study with adults

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2012
Kayhan, Emine Banu
The purpose of the present study is to investigate the spatial strategies of adults and the difficulties they experience while solving spatial visualization problems. To achieve this purpose, a case study is conducted and the case of this study is the group of five adults studying secondary or elementary mathematics education in a public university in Ankara. Spatial Ability Test (SAT) and task based interviews are utilized to determine the participants’ spatial abilities; and to interpret their strategies, and their difficulties in solving spatial visualization problems. The present study reveals that, the participants’ spatial strategies are mainly categorized as: holistic, analytic and intermediate strategies. Moreover, substrategies are defined; for holistic strategies; mental rotation and mental manipulation strategies; for analytic strategies, key feature and counting strategies; and for intermediate strategies, partial rotation, partial manipulation and pattern-based strategies. Additionally, for each sub-strategy different ways of using that strategy are defined. As an example when using mental manipulation strategy, participants use two different ways; imagining the folding and imagining the sequence. It is also concluded that when the strategies are selected, characteristics of the problems are important. This study shows that the difficulties of the participants in solving spatial visualization problems can be mainly categorized as: limited flexibility and inadequate proficiency. The results of this study provides detailed descriptions of strategies and difficulties of adults in solving spatial visualization problems to be used in designing tools for assessment or development of spatial visualization ability.