M.J. Casati, J.L. Perez-Benedito, J.J. Rua

Universidad Politecnica de Madrid (SPAIN)
In recent years, it has been observed that students starting out on an engineering degree show a loss of visual ability.

This paper describes a teaching experience that provides a stimulus to spatial visualization skills through construction by using models of geometric structures. Collaborative and cooperative learning has been one of the essential tools of the work. This practical way of approaching a subject that includes graphic content in an engineering degree, enhances the perception and spatial vision of the geometric figures, an aspect that is vital for developing initial design stages.

The work method consisted in developing a work procedure that timetabled organized classes for the construction of geometric models using simple materials like sticks or magnetic bars and CAD applications. The experience is documented in order to form the basis of an interactive learning environment for students.

The grades obtained in the subject after the experience led to a noticeable improvement in the final grade, with a significant reduction in the drop-out rate of the subject. The results of the end-of-course survey are also shown. A large majority is in favour of the initiative put forward and considers it to be an essential tool for the development of spatial visualization ability.

Developing models has proved to be a stimulus for spatial vision abilities as well as for making sketches and the ability to analyze structures and mechanisms. It also encourages cooperative learning that is assessed through students’ work, presentations and the final exam.