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Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology

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010299 Applied Mathematics not elsewhere classified| 029999 Physical Sciences not elsewhere classified| 120199 Architecture not elsewhere classified| 139999 Education not elsewhere classified

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide an insight into the relationship between students’ spatial ability and their university entrance score (Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank [ATAR]). The ATAR provides entry into university studies but does not necessary provide a good measure of students’ spatial skills. Spatial abilities are fundamental to success in many design courses. This paper aims to show whether the ATAR is a good predictor of spatial skills and considers the implications of this.

Design/methodology/approach – Students entering university design courses in architecture were tested three times during their rst year using a three-dimensional (3D) Ability Test (3DAT), an online psychometric test of 3D spatial ability. The students’ results in 3DAT were then compared to students’ ATAR scores using a Pearson’s correlation test were also conducted to assess the relationship between ATAR and spatial performance.

Findings – There was no correlation between ATAR and spatial performance. Therefore, there was no relationship between Participants were required to select their ATAR from ranges, i.e. 71-80, 81-90 and 91-100, which meant their exact ATAR was not recorded. This meant that the participants were clustered, making it dif cult to establish a linear relationship that was a true re ection of the population.

Practical implications – Initiatives to support students entering design courses may be necessary to compensate for the range of spatial skills students possess when entering university because of their school experiences.

Social implications – Individuals who have strong spatial skills are able to perform spatial problems faster and more ef ciently than those with weak spatial skills. High spatial performance has been shown relate to performance in areas such as mathematics science technology and design.

Originality/value – This paper ful ls the need to better understand the diversity of spatial abilities students have on entering design courses.


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