||The NAAB (National Architectural Accrediting Board Inc.), as an evaluator of architectural education in the United States has established both graduate architectural curriculum criteria and student performance criteria expected to be fulfilled by the student at the time of graduation. To fulfill these standards set by the NAAB, the graduate selection committees of architecture schools require the ability to predict graduate design studio performance of the applicants. The high percentage of international applicants suggests the necessity of a standardized evaluation tool.
This research presents a standardized web based testing environment titled Digital Charrete‚ that would contribute towards the fair evaluation of applicants to graduate architectural degree programs. Spatial ability is related to Design and Visualization skills‚, a part of the NAAB criteria, and also associated with design studio performance of architecture students. The Digital Charrette is a VRML environment within which spatial exercises are administered. It is designed to supplement the current admission procedure, and would enable the selection of students with greater potential to perform well in graduate architectural design studios. This research is also an attempt to understand the implications of using virtual three-dimensional environments for such testing purposes. The ability of this web based tool to predict student performance in architectural design studios is investigated. Finally, the user reactions to testing in a virtual three-dimensional environment and timed tasks are included in this study.
Analysis of the results showed that the test takers thought the Digital Charrette was a good evaluator of their spatial ability. The study population showed a preference for paper-based media in the pre-task analysis. A huge percentage of the study population found the Digital Charrette Śfun to do‚ and Śchallenging‚. The major drawback of this study was that the VRML environment was unable to render itself for testing purposes in a way that the medium would not hinder the test takers‚ performance. This may also be considered a cause for a relatively smaller percentage of success amongst test takers. The study population however unanimously considered the concept of the Digital Charrette, i.e. testing in virtual environments, significant to evaluation of architecture students.