Sheryl Sorby Supports Women’s Learning with Spatial Visualization Course at OSU
As an undergraduate engineering student, Sheryl Sorby encountered the same difficulty in recognizing how shapes rotate in space as many other female students. It turns out that difficulty is more common in women than in men and may account for some students’ decision to leave the study of engineering. But no longer.
Sheryl overcame her learning difficulty and went on to study mechanical engineering to the PhD level. She became a professor of engineering at Michigan Tech. and later joined a group of colleagues interested in engineering education at the Ohio State University. Dr. Sorby is now a collaborator in two Colleges, the College of Education and Human Ecology (EHE) and the College of Engineering’s newly formed Department of Engineering Education, formerly the Engineering Education Innovation Center.
Dr. Sorby researched the cause of the gap between men’s and women’s ability to visualize objects in space as they rotate through arcs. Some of her findings and the studies related to Sorby’s work by other researchers were summarized in Andrew Curry’s January 18, 2016 article, “Men are better at maps until women take this course.”
Dr. Sorby created an engineering graphics course, ENGR 1180, focused on spatial visualization skill building. Her course, among several others, helps to prepare OSU engineering students for success using graphics for their future engineering studies.