Toward a Broader Understanding of Spatial Ability in CAD Education

Kristin A. Bartlett, Jorge D. Camba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spatial ability has long been considered important in CAD education. However, spatial ability is not a unitary construct, but a family of a variety of different skills. The choice of which spatial tests are thought to measure spatial abilities in CAD education is rarely called into question, and the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test (PSVT:R) is among the most popular. In the present study, we used a spatial test from apparel design with a group of students enrolled in a CAD course in an engineering program. While male students scored higher than female students on the PSVT:R, female students outperformed males on the Digital Apparel Spatial Visualization Test (DASVT). Students with relevant background experience scored better than students without background experience on both tests. Our results suggest that the current approach to spatial testing in CAD education may be taking an overly narrow view of the spatial construct, particularly with the growing interest in CAD applications to soft goods design and apparel design.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-54
Number of pages16
JournalComputer-Aided Design and Applications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 CAD Solutions.


  • CAD education
  • PSVT:R
  • STEM education
  • apparel design
  • spatial ability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Computational Mathematics


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