Space Perception Ability & Maths Test; (RAF & RNAS)

– David Flegg & Josephine McHale

This study was part of an exploration of a proposed test battery, set up by the Ministry of Defence, for the selection of Artificer Apprentices in the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy. The sample consisted of 392 artificer apprentices and of the tests used, three (all of ability) were already published and validated. These were the Maths Tests (Wood & Skurnik, 1969) containing sub-tests entitled Manipulation, Transformation, Comprehension, and Application; and two tests of space perception ability, the Shapes Analysis Test (Heim & Simmonds, 1965) and the more advanced Stabbing Test (Mathews, 1977).

The Shapes Test consisted of 36 items, to be completed within 25 minutes that required the subject to manipulate two or three dimensional shapes (per item) mentally in a variety of ways and then choose which of the given alternatives represents the outcome of the manipulation.

The Stabbing Test requires the subject to formulate and then test hypotheses about the location of hidden shapes. The principal equipment is a wooden box, divided into four compartments each with a Perspex shape stuck to the bottom and wrapped tightly with a sheet of paper to conceal the exact location of the shape. Using a specially designed stabbing needle with a very narrow tip but wider shaft the subject has to locate the shape precisely in as few stabs as possible. Successful hits leave a small shallow hole; failed hits leave a deeper wide hole. The subject is aided by being shown a duplicate of each shape being sought. The time limit is seven minutes.

McKenna (1983) had already noted that there was no significant correlation between KAI and space perception ability, as expected by A-I theory. This finding is replicated in this project together with the expected finding of no significant correlation with the maths test. The three correlations were all less than 0.1. In addition there was no significant differences found on these measures between the means obtained by the group accepted by the services and means of the group not accepted.



Heim, A.W. & Simmonds, V. (1965) The Shapes Analysis Test: a test of special perception. Perceptual Motor Skills, 20, 158

Mathews, D. (1977) The Relevance of School Learning Experience to Performance in Industry. Watford: EITB Report. RR6

McKenna, F.P. (1983) Field Dependence and Personality: a re-examination. Social Behaviour and Personality. 11, 51-55

McKenna, F.P. (1984) Measures of Field Dependence: cognitive style or cognitive ability. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 47, 593-603

Wood, R. & Skurnick, L.S. (1969) Item Banking. Slough, UK: NFER