The Politics of the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test of Rotations (PSVT:R) and its Use in Engineering Education

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Purdue Spatial Visualization Test: Rotations (PSVT:R) is commonly used in engineering education to measure spatial ability in efforts to predict academic or vocational success, or as a placement test. However, the politics of the instrument are rarely discussed. Here I provide a critical review of the historical literature that provides the basis for current work using the PSVT:R. I examine the validation and popularization of the PSVT:R, discuss how the instrument may not actually measure mental rotation, and explain how the construct of ‘gestalt processing’ was created in an effort to raise the status of spatial instruments which favored men. I argue that the isometric imagery style used in the test, which is rooted in the masculinized discipline of engineering graphics, further politicizes the test. I discuss the usage of the PSVT:R in spatial training efforts targeting historically excluded groups, and how understanding the politics of the PSVT:R should inform future efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-77
Number of pages22
JournalEngineering Studies
Volume16
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Keywords

  • PSVT:R
  • bias
  • fairness in assessment
  • gender
  • spatial skills

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Engineering
  • History and Philosophy of Science

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'The Politics of the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test of Rotations (PSVT:R) and its Use in Engineering Education'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this