The coloured cube test and the coloured mental rotation test: two new measures of spatial ability and mental rotation

Lütke, Nikolay (2020) The coloured cube test and the coloured mental rotation test: two new measures of spatial ability and mental rotation. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


This research introduces two new measures of mental rotation (MR) for 4- to 11-year-old children. Instead of the complex achromatic three-dimensional (3D) cube aggregates used with adults (Shepard & Metzler, 1971), or the flat two-dimensional animals used with children (Quaiser-Pohl, 2003), the new tests uses 3D colourful cubes, either as a standalone, or as a cube aggregate but with fewer elements. The test format is similar to the Raven’s Coloured Progressive Matrices Test (RCPM) which also served as a validation tool. The first new test, the Rotated Colour Cube Test (RCCT), consists of multicoloured single cubes in different orientations. Three age groups of 7- to 10-year-old children (N=100) were increasingly successful in identifying cubes, with boys from socio-economic background that did not receive state benefits performing better in the more challenging test sections. While cubes that were different to the target in terms of cube face colour made the test easier, differently oriented cubes increased task difficulty. RCCT and RCPM were correlated, with the RCCT being the easier test. The second new test development, the Coloured Mental Rotation Test (CMRT), investigated differences in set-size, angularity, and axis of rotation of coloured cube aggregates in 4- to 11-year-old children (N=80). Several higher-order interactions all involved set-size and showed that 4-cube aggregates were the most economical and best 3D object for children’s MR in all age groups. Interestingly, the linear decrease in performance with increasing angularity of 4-cube aggregates was already observed in 4-to 5-year but also still in 10- to 11-year-old boys, as well as in 6- to 7- and 8- to 9-year-old girls. It was concluded that the magical number 4, a capacity limit in attention and short-term memory (Cowan, 2001), can also be observed in MR, due to the Good Gestalt of the 4-cube aggregates.

Lutke-Nikolay_PhD-thesis_October-2020.pdf - Published Version
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