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ERIC Number: EJ1063511
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 7
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: EISSN-1557-5284
Using the van Hiele K-12 Geometry Learning Theory to Modify Engineering Mechanics Instruction
Sharp, Janet M.; Zachary, Loren W.
Journal of STEM Education: Innovations and Research, v5 n1-2 p35-41 Jan-Jun 2004
Engineering students use spatial thinking when examining diagrams or models to study structure design. It is expected that most engineering students have solidified spatial thinking skills during K-12 schooling. However, according to what we know about geometry learning and teaching, spatial thinking probably needs to be explicitly taught within the confines of engineering-specific contexts in college. The van Hiele theory of geometry learning explains geometry understanding as a series of more and more sophisticated ways to reason geometrically. The theory is known for its use in guiding K-12 geometry instruction. This paper describes the theory and explains how one engineering mechanics professor used it to re-conceptualize and restructure his approach to teaching an engineering mechanics class. In particular, we describe his use of the van Hiele theory to move students toward success with freebody-diagrams, diagrams requiring complex spatial thinking and often a "point of departure" for most undergraduate engineering students. [A bibliography and list of suggested readings are included.]
Institute for STEM Education and Research. P.O. Box 4001, Auburn, AL 36831. Tel: 334-844-3360; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A