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Chartering Factors that may contribute to Gender Differences in Spatial Ability: Consideration of the Effect of Performance Factors through a Meta-analysis. By So Yoon Yoon and Yukiko Maeda.
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Chartering Factors that may contribute to Gender Differences in Spatial Ability: Consideration of the Effect of Performance Factors through a Meta-analysis. By So Yoon Yoon and Yukiko Maeda.

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This study aimed to quantitatively synthesize the literature on gender differences in mental rotation ability in order to characterize the typical magnitude of the differences and their variations ...

This study aimed to quantitatively synthesize the literature on gender differences in mental rotation ability in order to characterize the typical magnitude of the differences and their variations across studies. Since a series of studies led by Lubinski and Benbow has reported a critical role of spatial ability as a predictor of successful performance and developing expertise in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines (e.g., Wai, Lubinski, Benbow, 2009), the value of spatial ability seems to be refreshed in STEM education more than ever. Since the early stages of research on spatial ability (Carroll, 1993; Eliot, 1987; Harris, 1978), studies on mental rotation ability, one sub-type of spatial ability, tend to provide consistent evidence for gender differences favoring males (Linn & Petersen, 1985; Voyer, Voyer, & Bryden, 1995). While the trend seems evident, the magnitude of the effect varies across studies with different populations and settings. In addition, the causes of the observed gender differences in mental rotation ability are not clarified yet (Masters, 1998; Moè, 2009).

However, the literature suggests that the observed gender differences in mental rotation ability can be explained by at least five distinguishable factors: biological, strategic, experiential, affective, and performance. Among those five factors, we focused on performance factors to understand whether gender differences observed in scores are true or are due to the artifacts of the testing conditions. Specifically, we focused on the gender difference in three-dimensional mental rotation ability measured by The Purdue Spatial Visualization Tests: Visualization of Rotations (PSVT:R) (Guay, 1976), which has been prevalently used in STEM education for more than three decades.

Addressed research questions are as follows: (a) What is the typical effect size of gender differences in mental rotation ability measured by the PSVT:R?; (b) To what extent do effect sizes vary across studies?; and (c) How do effect sizes differ by the types of the test, length of the test, time limits, administration modes, education levels, and participants’ majors?

Fifty-four effect sizes obtained from 35 out of 153 studies that utilized PSVT:R were included in the meta-analysis. This study revealed that the PSVT:R has a significant gender difference favoring males with the weighted average of Cohen’s d=0.63, indicating a relatively large gender difference in spatial ability scores. The chi-square test of homogeneity (Q statistics) (Hedges, & Olkin, 1985) of effect sizes rejected the null hypothesis, implying that true effect sizes do vary across studies. Thus, additional analyses investigating moderating effects with random-effects models were warranted. Based on the descriptive results, testing conditions and sample and study characteristics were used as possible moderators in a multilevel model for a meta-analysis. Through this analysis, conclusions were made for each research question and followed by the discussion including implications in practice and suggestions for future research.

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Chartering Factors that may contribute to Gender Differences in Spatial Ability: Consideration of the Effect of Performance Factors through a Meta-analysis. By So Yoon Yoon and Yukiko Maeda. Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Chartering Factors that may contribute to Gender Differences in Spatial Ability: Consideration of the Effect of Performance Factors through a Meta-analysis February 19, 2010 Gender & STEM Research Symposium So Yoon Yoon (yoon18@purdue.edu) Yukiko Maeda (ymaeda@purdue.edu) Department of Educational Studies Purdue University
  • 2. Outline Gender Differences in Spatial Ability The PSVT:R and STEM Education Spatial Ability A Meta-analysis: Hierarchical Modeling Results
  • 3. A Factor Structure Model of Spatial Ability (Burton & Fogarty, 2003; Carroll, 1993; Ho & Eastman, 2005; Tartre,1990) Spatial Visualization Mental Transformation Spatial Relations Mental Rotation 2-Dimenstional Spatial Ability Closure Speed 3-Dimensional Closure Flexibility Imagery Quality Perceptual Speed Imagery Self-report Visual Imagery Imagery Speed
  • 4. A Possible Causes of Gender Differences in Spatial Ability Gender Differences in Mental Rotation Ability Biological Factors Experiential Factors Strategic Factors Affective Factors Performance Factors Function and structures of brain Hormonal effect Genes Aging Computer or video game experiences Prior exposure to mental rotation tasks Training and practice effect Some sports Play with toys Spatial strategies Response strategies Guessing strategies Self- confidence Gender belief Gender stereotypes Time restriction Scoring methods Administration mode (PPT vs. CBT) Length of Test
  • 5.
    • Author: Guay (1976)
    • Ages: 13 years or older
    • Measure: spatial visualization ability in 3-D mental rotation
    • Description:
    The PSVT:R (Purdue Spatial Visualization Tests: Visualization of Rotations)
    • 30 items
    • (13 symmetrical and 17 nonsymmetrical figures of 3-D objects)
    • An extended version of one subtest of the PSVT
    • Frequently uses in STEM education
    • strong reliability and validity evidence
    • Enough complexity and difficulty level to differentiate
    • students’ spatial abilities in STEM areas
    • Variations of testing conditions in the use of the PSVT:R
  • 6. The PSVT:R (Purdue Spatial Visualization Tests: Visualization of Rotations)
  • 7.
    • W hat is the typical effect size of gender difference s in mental rotation ability measured by the PSVT:R?
    • T o what extent do effect sizes vary across studies?
    • H ow do effect sizes differ by:
    • T ypes of the test/length of the test
    • Administration modes
    • Time limits
    • Education levels
    • Participants’ majors ?
    Research Questions
  • 8. Methods: Meta-analysis Basic Steps of Meta-analysis Current Meta-analysis Formulate research questions Presented 3 Research Questions Define inclusion and exclusion criteria of primary studies Studies using the variants of the PSVT:R and providing enough information Locate and select primary studies Located 153 studies and select 35 primary studies Assess quality of primary studies Developed a coding scheme for key characteristics of primary studies and assessed them Extract and analyze the data Obtained 54 effect sizes (Cohen’s d ), tested homogeneity of effect sizes (Q-statistics), and applied a Generalized Multilevel Modeling (GMLM) Present and interpret the results Presented results for each research question and provided discussions and implications
  • 9. Results 1
    • W hat is the typical effect size of gender difference s in mental rotation ability measured by the PSVT:R?
    The weighted average effect size ~ 0.6
  • 10. Results 2
    • T o what extent do effect sizes vary across studies?
    95 % CI A significant variation in effect sizes with the SD ~ 0.19
  • 11. Results 3: Descriptive Statistics
    • H ow do effect sizes differ by the testing conditions?
    N * : Weighted N Types of Instrument Cohen’s d N * M SD PSVT:R (30Q) 0.64 0.29 553 ROT (20Q) 0.63 0.26 326 PSV:R (12Q) 0.57 0.29 152 Administration Mode Cohen’s d N * M SD Paper-and-pencil test 0.66 0.27 837 Computer-based test 0.47 0.35 139 Time Limit Cohen’s d N * M SD No time limit 0.63 0.32 837 Time limit 0.61 0.21 139 Education Level Cohen’s d N * M SD Middle School 0.78 0.49 49 High School 0.60 0.27 108 College 0.62 0.26 780 College Major Cohen’s d N * M SD Non-STEM 0.65 0.38 119 STEM 0.60 0.26 239 Mixed 0.62 0.22 422
  • 12. Results 3: Inferential Statistics
    • H ow do effect sizes differ by the testing conditions?
    • Inferential statistics:
    • non-significant variations of the effect sizes by the testing conditions
    • Under some testing conditions, both males and females’ average test scores were increased
    • All participants’ test scores were equally or similarly affected by certain test conditions, and, as a result, the magnitude of the effect size remains unchanged
    • The observed variation in effect sizes may not be simply due to testing conditions
    • How can we explain the variations in effect sizes?
  • 13. A Possible Causes of Gender Differences in Spatial Ability Gender Differences in Mental Rotation Ability Biological Factors Experiential Factors Strategic Factors Affective Factors Performance Factors Function and structures of brain Hormonal effect Genes Aging Computer or video game experiences Prior exposure to mental rotation tasks Training and practice effect Some sports Play with toys Spatial strategies Response strategies Guessing strategies Self- confidence Gender belief Gender stereotypes Time restriction Scoring methods Administration mode (PPT vs. CBT) Length of Test
  • 14.
    • Thank you !