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Three-Dimensional Learning
Many employers use spatial reasoning tests to assess candidates ability to think three dimensionally. For example, which of the cubes along the bottom of the image below would be formed given the two-dimensional pattern above?

These spatial reasoning tests evaluate individuals’ non-verbal reasoning skills: the ability to understand and analyze visual information and solve problems without relying upon or being limited by language skills. While much of the ‘education’ we do in classrooms revolves around two-dimensional work (solving a math problem on paper, writing a paper about the Civil War, etc.), the more we can use three-dimensional thinking in our classrooms, the more effective our students’ learning will be.

Interestingly, individuals who have dyslexia have a significant advantage in their non-verbal reasoning skills, as this article articulates, and have a significant advantage over their non-dyslexic peers in visualizing problems three-dimensionally.

For our students, the exposure to three-dimensional thinking is never more present than it is in the arts. Boat building, wood working, metal shop, and ceramics engage students entirely in three-dimensional problem solving as they work intimately with materials to craft their artwork. Studio art classes must take a slightly different approach to teaching three-dimensional thinking, however.

Corby Leith ‘92 sent out an email to the community earlier last week to come see his student’s art installation in Slocomb Hall. Gabbi’s installation, inspired by Tara Donovan, took the everyday object of purple string and created a true three-dimensional experience for those who stepped into her exhibit.

Gabbi said of her installation, “At first I had the idea to paint the walls purple and use purple string to create my installation, but Corby encouraged me to go further, to expand my installation to the point where it became a true experience for someone. I painted the floors, walls and created a purple ceiling. I found that my project took on a life of its own as I let it, and I think this is so important for an installation like this, to not plan too much, but to let it evolve as you go.”

Corby hopes to bring the same three-dimensional learning experience to studio art as his colleagues in the art department do, “The purpose of these installations is to challenge students in a different way, to get them to think and create art three-dimensionally. They have total freedom in these installations and every student will have the opportunity to create one.”

He adds, “The goal is for each student to create something that leaves you feeling something. Anna Whitemore did our first installation and created a beautiful dress that left you with an emotion. Gabbi’s installation did the same thing as you walk into the room and what has been created is something you’ve never seen before. It is the whole process...the days leading up to the opening of the installation and then the moment of ‘feeling’ that is evoked is so powerful for both the observer and the artist.” Gabbi adds, “It’s so fun to watch each person’s installation take shape. Margo is in the early stages of her installation now and I can’t wait to see it evolve over the course of the week.”

Be sure to swing by Slocomb Hall throughout the year to have a three-dimensional art experience of your own and to put the Winter Art Show on your calendar: Friday February 21 at 6:00 pm in the Wilkins Meeting House!
Walking into a three dimensional art installation evokes emotion.
We know that three dimensional learning involves spatial reasoning skills that are often overlooked in traditional academic courses.
Ensuring students have opportunities to enhance these spatial reasoning skills is critical to our educational goals.
Be sure to stop by Slocomb Hall this winter and spring to check out the latest student art installations!