Investigating the relationships between spatial ability, interest, and task experience on knowledge retention in engineering education.
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Spatial ability has been established as having a significant effect on performance and subsequently on retention in engineering education. However, the cause for this phenomenon is not yet fully understood. Based on previous findings, it is posited that spatial ability has an effect on the students’ capacity to acquire knowledge. This study aspired to investigate this from the perspective of knowledge retention in an authentic engineering education environment. A cohort of first year undergraduate engineering students (n = 83) voluntarily participated in this study. Three psychometric tests of spatial ability were administered to the cohort. After eight weeks, this was followed by an experimentally designed lecture on novel foundational engineering content and an associated retention test with perceived task experience and interest measured through 9-point Likert-type items. Results suggest that interest and spatial ability have an effect on knowledge retention, however no effect was observed between retention and task experience other than of perceived difficulty. A discussion is presented describing the implications of this study for future research.
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