Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering and Technology Education


Gary Stewardson


Distance education is growing at colleges and universities throughout the United States. Engineering graphics laboratory courses are unique in their focus on skills and design with an emphasis on a hands-on approach when compared to many subjects that focus on mastering information. Most studies in the literature focus on how distance learning has impacted traditionally lecture-based curricular approach and not on classrooms that are traditionally laboratory based as would be typically found in many engineering graphics courses. This study measured and compared spatial ability as it is an essential component to engineering graphics, and has a highly correlated measure of success in engineering and other science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines. This study’s purpose was to measure and compare a face-to-face engineering graphics course with a synchronous distance education engineering graphics course by identifying the impact of the teacher’s physical presence on students’ spatial ability.

The differences found in the change of spatial ability between students taking an engineering graphics course by means of synchronous distance education and face-to-face courses were found in students with a low beginning spatial ability. Students with a low beginning spatial ability showed greater improvement in spatial ability in the face-to-face courses (m = 3.50, SD = 1.93), than in the synchronous distance education courses (m = 1.39, SD = 2.25).




Publication made available electronically January 24, 2012.