The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of applications created using a web-based 3D design environment on the spatial visualisation and mental rotation abilities of secondary school students. A total of 63 school students from the sixth grade participated in the study. The researchers applied a mixed research method including both quantitative and qualitative measures. The Spatial Visualisation Test, Mental Rotation Test, and Santa Barbara Solids Test, which concurrently measure spatial orientation and spatial relations, were used as tools to measure the different components of spatial ability prior to and after the treatment application. Following the treatment, a focus group interview using structured questions was conducted. A statistically significant difference showed an increase in all three test scores of the students; also, the students stated that they were satisfied with being able to design and create something new.
Issues related to 3d turtle's navigation and geometrical figures' manipulation in the simulated 3d space of a newly developed computational environment, MaLT, are reported and discussed here. The joint use of meaningful formalism and the dynamic manipulation of graphically represented 3d figures seem to offer new resources and to pose new challenges as far as geometrical activities and construction of meanings are concerned, which are strongly related to the representational infrastructure of MaLT.
Abilities such as spatial orientation and spatial visualisation come into play and are interwoven with the software's functionalities and semantics. Although the body-syntonic metaphor remains critical while navigating the turtle in the 3d simulated space, it seems that it has to be co-ordinated with other - often conflicting one another - frames of reference. The strong link between spatial graphical and geometrical aspects, that was accentuated by the dragging functionalities of the software, helped students go beyond an immediate perceptual approach, relating geometrical figures with real 3d objects and the change of planes in 3d space with physical angle situations. In this framework the concept of angle as turn and measure with emphasis on directionality but also as a relationship between the planes defined by 2d figures has arisen as central.