Navigation Assistance and Spatial Learning

Münzer, S. (2005): Navigation Assistance Can Prevent Spatial LearningPoster presented at the X. European Workshop on Imagery and Cognition (EWIC), St. Andrews, Scotland, Juni 2005. A very interesting research poster that shows the results of a study about pedestrian navigation assistance. It examines the consequences of navigation assistance for the acquisition of route and survey knowledge. 64 participants took a guided tour in a Zoo, each had a PDA, they were divided in 4 experimental conditions: with auditory cues ("turn left"), with auditory cues and context, with visual cues on the PDA (the path) or a fragmentary map of the zoo. Subjects were asked to respond the correct direction given a picture of an inter- section.

Route memory performancewas good in the experimental conditions in which navigation assistance was used (about 75 % -80 % correct). Route memory performance was nearly perfect in the map-based wayfinding condition. (...) navigation assistance can result in learning. In particular, navigation assistance users learned virtually nothing about the spatial configuration of the real environment, in contrast to map users. Neither modality of direction-giving (auditory vs. visual) nor presentation of the spatial context. (...) Everyday wayfinding activities as practiced by efficient map users may come close to this, while navigation assistance users as well as less skilled map users may mainly acquire route knowledge. For many users active guidance for the mental spatial transformations from allocentric to egocentric perspectives and vice versa would be desired in order to enhance spatial orientation knowledge. It is a challenge for intelligent human-computer interaction design to stimulate and support user‘s active spatial learning.

Why do I blog this? studying navigation assistance and its influence on some cognitive processes is interesting and slightly related to my research.