Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mathematical Sciences

First Advisor

Kastro M. Hamed

Second Advisor

Joo Young Park

Third Advisor

Samantha R. Fowler

Fourth Advisor

David Carroll


The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of spatial ability (SA) and three-dimensional (3D) interactive Computer-assisted instruction (CAI) on college student academic achievement (ACH). The study was a quasi-experimental, pretest-posttest, control group mixed methods design. Participants were assessed for spatial ability via the Revised Purdue Spatial Visualization Test: Visualization of Rotations (Revised PSVT:R), Yoon (2011). Participants were instructed to identify, locate and visualize human skeletal muscles and muscle actions. During laboratory sessions, control groups studied plastic anatomical 3D models and experiment groups utilized 3D interactive CAI. ACH was measured by the Human Skeletal Muscle Assessment (HSMA) difference score. Data was collected during the 2015 school year from 272 students who enrolled within fifteen intact sections of Human Anatomy and Physiology I in Central Florida. Multiple regression analysis found that 9.3% of the variance in a students’ academic achievement was explained by the collective influence of spatial ability level, 3D interactive CAI, and the interaction between these variables; this was found to be statistically significant. SA level and 3D interactive CAI were found to be significant independent predictors of ACH. Compared to controls 3D interactive CAI mid-level SA students experienced significant ACH gains and high-level SA students received modest ACH gains. An analysis of covariance, ANCOVA, was conducted using the HSMA pretest score as a covariate, SA level, 3D interactive CAI and the interaction of all three variables on the HSMA posttest was found to be statistically significant (R2 = .1521, F(6, 236) = 6.8476, p = <.0001). An additional 5.9% of the variance in students’ ACH was attributed to their HSMA pretest scores. On the post-instruction survey, 94% of the experimental group students responded that they preferred using the 3D computer application compared to plastic anatomical models and that the application was helpful to locate muscles from different angles and see movements. These findings support spatial ability assessment and integration of 3D interactive CAI to improve students’ academic achievement in functional anatomy.