About eGrove Education

eGrove Education co-founders Nate Delson and Lelli Van Den Einde are both Teaching Professors at the University of California at San Diego. We see firsthand the importance of sketching when our students are working on design projects and sharing concepts with teammates.

Research shows that spatial visualization training can increase GPA and graduation rates for math and science majors [1]. Freehand sketching is a key part of spatial visualization training; the physical act of drawing 2D and 3D shapes increases one’s spatial visualization ability [2]. Benefits of spatial visualization training have been shown to be especially effective for women and other underrepresented minorities in math and science [3]. Sketching and spatial visualization are important skills, but rarely taught!

Our primary innovation is that we have replaced sketching on paper with drawing on a touchscreen. Our Apps provide immediate feedback and motivate students to persist until an assignment is solved. Sketches are automatically graded and customized hints are provided when students are stuck. Unlike multiple-choice questions, students can retry an assignment multiple times until they get it right. Teachers can see each student’s progress and where they need help. The learning process is more engaging, more effective, and easier for students and teachers.

We began teaching our spatial visualization class using the App at UC San Diego in 2014 [4]. Most recently 96% of the students recommend the class and pre and post testing has demonstrated a 39% increase in ability for those entering the class with low spatial scores. A key finding was that students who demonstrated higher persistence by retrying assignments without using hints showed significantly higher gains in spatial ability. Following this study, we expanded the motivating features in our app, and the number of students who achieve high increases in spatial visualization ability has doubled.

Our Apps were initially developed for iPads and are now being ported to include iPads, iPhones, Android tablets and phones, Chromebooks, and Windows computers with touchscreens. Spatial Vis is suitable for high school and college, and ideal at the beginning of a Computer Aided Design (CAD) class. Spatial Kids is focused on lower grade levels.

In 1964 a study identified 84 careers [5] that require spatial skills. Today there are many more careers ranging from medical imaging to computer game design. Even with today’s advanced computer graphics, it is essential that we can visualize shapes in our minds and communicate them quickly to our peers. Give our App a try. It is fun, challenging, and beneficial!



  1. Engage Engineering website. http://www.engageengineering.org/spatial/whyitworks/

  2. Sorby, S. (2009). "Educational Research in Developing 3-D Spatial Skills for Engineering Students”, International Journal of Science Education, Vol. 31, No. 3, pp. 459 - 480, 2009-02-00.

  3. Hill, C., Corbett, C., & St Rose, A. (2010). Why so few? Women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. American Association of University Women. 1111 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20036.

  4. Nathan Delson and Lelli Van Den Einde.  "Tracking Student Engagement with a Touchscreen App for Spatial Visualization Training and Freehand Sketching".  2015 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Seattle, Washington, 2015, June.  ASEE Conferences, 2015.  https://peer.asee.org/24931 Internet.  June, 2015. (Chair’s Award for Outstanding Technical Paper, Engineering Design Graphics Division)

  5. Smith, I. M. (1964). Spatial ability: Its educational and social significance. San Diego, CA: Robert R. Knapp.

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