RESEARCH ON THE SPATIO-GEOMETRIC REASONING COMPETENCE OF UNDERGRADUATE CHEMISTRY STUDENTS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF BARCELONA
Spatio-geometric reasoning is a fundamental competence in most of the scientific and technical university studies. However, it is only partially treated during the secondary education and most of the students that start the chemistry degree at the University of Barcelona do not have a strong competence in this type of reasoning.
In this sense, we were interested to have evidences about the level that our students have on the spatio-geometric reasoning competence. To achieve this goal, a test consisting on five exercises of different degree of difficulty was designed and taken by the students at the beginning of the academic year 2016-17. With the objective of having information about the evolution of this competence during the chemistry studies (240 credits), the same test was taken by students from 1st to 4th year levels.
The analysis of the results showed that only 2% of the students gave the correct answer to all the exercises, while 11% of the students failed in all the exercises. The average score of the students that had up to 60 credits was significantly higher than that of the students that had started the chemistry studies in September 2016 (0 credits), but there were no significant changes in the average score of the students that had more than 60 credits. These results suggest that a positive evolution of the spatio-geometric reasoning competence is only observed during the first year of the undergraduate studies. On the other hand, the average score in this competence showed also a positive correlation with the rate of academic progression, that is, the students with a low progression rate (<= 40 credits/year) had a significantly lower average score than those with an intermediate progression rate (41 to 59 credits/year), which had also a significantly lower average score than the students with the highest progression rate (60 credits/year).