Academic journal article Studia Psychologica

Testing of Spatial Ability: Construction and Evaluation of a New Instrument

Academic journal article Studia Psychologica

Testing of Spatial Ability: Construction and Evaluation of a New Instrument

Article excerpt

Abstract: The aim of the paper is to describe the process of development and evaluation of a newly designed spatial ability test. It consists of two consecutive studies. In Study I (N = 267) we proposed 35 items equally divided into five subsets. The items were designed with respect to theoretically described spatial ability dimensions (spatial perception, orientation, visualization, relations, and mental rotation). Even though a five factor structural model fitted the data reasonably well, on the principle of parsimony we agreed on a unidimensional model. Items with the best parameters (n = 25) were considered as the final version of the test. In Study II (N = 124) we verified that there is no significant impact of the administration media (paper/pencil vs. computer-based). The test-retest stability with a six-week interval was acceptable (r = 0.796), and so was the internal consistency (Cronbach's α = 0.752). We have found a modest correlation (r = 0.470) with the Spatial Reasoning subtest of the Intelligence Structure Test.

Key words: spatial ability, testing, psychometrics


Souhrn: Predlozená studie popisuje vývoj a psychometrické zhodnocení nove navrzeného testu prostorové predstavivosti. Studie je rozdelena do dvou navazujících cástí. V cásti I (N = 267) je predstaveno 35 polozek rovnomerne rozdelených do peti subsetu. Polozky byly navrzeny s ohledem na petifaktorovou teorii prostorové predstavivosti, která zahrnuje dimenze prostorové percepce, prostorové orientace, prostorové vizualizace, mentální rotace a chápání prostorových vztahu. Ackoli petifaktorový model prokazoval prijatelnou shodu s daty, na principu parsimonie jsme uprednostnili model obecného faktoru. Polozky s nejlepsími charakteristikami (n = 25) byly vybrány do finální verze testu, jejíz psychometrické charakteristiky byly overeny v rámci cásti II (N=124). Výsledky v tomto testu vykazují uspokojivou míru test-retest stability (r = 0,796) pri sestitýdenním intervalu mezi mereními a vnitrní konzistence (Cronbachova α = 0.752). Nebyl prokázán vliv media administrace (pocítac vs. papír/tuzka) a byl nalezen stredne tesný vztah (r = 0,470) se subtestem Inteligencního strukturního testu zamereného na prostorovou predstavivost.


The concept of spatial ability is hard to define. In general, spatial ability enables the individual to deal with problems and tasks, which require estimation, prediction, or assessment of spatial relations between individual objects or figures (Eliot, Smith, 1983). At the turn of the 20th century, researchers started to acknowledge spatial ability as an independent factor separate from general intelligence (Mohler, 2008). The efforts to identify specific factors within the construct of spatial ability can be traced back to the middle of the 20th century, the era of outstanding theoreticians of intelligence such as Thurstone, Guilford, or Zimmerman (Hegarty, Waller, 2005). Since those days, researchers have developed many definitions of spatial ability together with various measures attempting to capture this phenomenon. These authors reached relatively diverse conclusions about the number and the nature of spatial ability components.

McGee (1979) significantly contributed to the clarification of the topic by providing a comprehensive review. Based on the results of available factor analytic studies, he concluded that all of the different factors found by various authors reflected two fundamental dimensions, which he called spatial visualization and spatial orientation. Visualization incorporates the ability to mentally manipulate (rotate, twist and invert) visual stimuli. Orientation involves comprehension of the way elements are arranged within a visual stimulus pattern and dealing with changes in orientation of variably depicted spatial configurations. Despite McGee's thorough analysis, however, the controversies about the structure of spatial ability still remain. …

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