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Gavin Duffy


  • Research Interests within Engineering Education

  • My research interests are motivated by a desire to improve engineering education and range from spatial ability in STEM learning to problem-based learning and research methodologies. I am particularly interested in the relationship between spatial ability and performance in STEM learning tasks including problem solving. I have used both qualitative and quantitative methods of data analysis. I collaborate with several networks of researchers in Ireland, Europe and the USA.

    Projects I have been involved with

    • 2016 to 2018: Collaborative Research: Spatial Visualization Skills and Engineering Problem Solving. Funded by the NSF in the US, I spent a year in the Engineering Education Department at Ohio State University working full time on this project.
    • 2010 to 2017: Spatial thinking in the engineering curriculum: an investigation of the relationship between problem solving and spatial skills among engineering students. This was my PhD project.
    • 2009 to 2010: Integration of personal and technical skills in engineering through an increase in the use of project and problem-based learning. I was funded by my institute (DIT) to be a teaching fellow on this project.


  1. Duffy, G., Sorby, S. A., & Bowe, B. (In press). Spatial ability is a key cognitive factor in the representation of word problems in mathematics among engineering students. Journal of Engineering Education.
  2. Duffy, G., Sorby, S. A., Mack, A., & Bowe, B. (2017). Performance by Gender on University Placement Tests in Mathematics and Spatial Skills. Presented at the ASEE Annual Conference 2017, Columbus Ohio: American Society for Engineering Education. Retrieved from
  3. Malmi, L., Adawi, T., Curmi, R., De Graaff, E., Duffy, G., Kautz, C., … & Williams, B. (2018). How authors did it–a methodological analysis of recent engineering education research papers in the European Journal of Engineering Education. European Journal of Engineering Education, 43(2), 171-189.