Supporting spatial learning in virtual environments.

Sykes, Jonathan Robert (2003) Supporting spatial learning in virtual environments. PhD thesis, Napier University.

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This thesis explores the acquisition of spatial knowledge as a means to support wayfinding in virtual environments. Specifically, the thesis presents an investigation into
the potential benefits one might gain through the application of a variety of tools, each of
which has been designed to support one of the three stages of cognitive map development
- landmark-based representation, route-based representation, and survey-based
representation (Siegel & White, 1975). Each tool has been evaluated with respect to
improvements in wayfinding, and also in their support for environmental learning.
Measures were taken of each tool used in isolation, and also when used together as a
complete toolset.

The between-subjects evaluation process involved 101 participants, randomly assigned to
one of five conditions. Each participant was asked to navigate a virtual environment to
locate three specific items. To evaluate wayfinding, participants were asked to perform
the same task on six occasions within the same session. After discovering all items, a
measure indicating route efficiency was recorded. On completing all six trials participants
were asked to produce a map of the virtual environment. It was hypothesised that the
presence of tools would improve the acquisition of spatial knowledge, and thus route
efficiency and map production.

Comparing the 'no-tool' and the 'all tool' conditions, a 2x6 repeated measures ANOVA
found that when providing the tools concurrently there was a statistically significant
improvement in the efficiency of route taken (F(1,38)=4.63, p<0.05). However, when
evaluating the tools in isolation, no significant improvement in route efficiency was
found. Also, no significant difference between conditions was identified when comparing
the quality of maps produced by participants across conditions. The thesis concludes by
arguing that the application of the complete toolset benefits wayfinding, although it is
noted that the evidence does not support the hypothesis that this is caused by improved
spatial learning.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Spatial knowledge; Spatial learning; Wayfinding; Virtual environments; Cognitive mapping; Tools; Landmarks; Routes; Surveying; Questionnaire; Toolset evaluation;
University Divisions/Research Centres: Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Creative Industries > School of Computing
Dewey Decimal Subjects: 100 Philosophy & psychology > 150 Psychology > 152 Perception, movement, emotions & drives
000 Computer science, information & general works > 000 Computer science, knowledge & systems > 006 Special Computer Methods > 006.6 Computer graphics
Library of Congress Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
Item ID: 2786
Depositing User: Users 10 not found.
Date Deposited: 27 Jul 2009 10:15
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2011 04:50

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