Research Output

Supporting spatial learning in virtual environments.

  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

  • Type:


  • Date:

    31 October 2003

  • Publication Status:



Sykes, J. R. Supporting spatial learning in virtual environments. (Thesis)


Spatial knowledge; Spatial learning; Wayfinding; Virtual environments; Cognitive mapping; Tools; Landmarks; Routes; Surveying; Questionnaire; Toolset evaluation;

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