Spatial Cognition and Personal Preference

The study done by Richardson et al. gives us a very interesting look into the various ways individuals can conceive and understand a certain space.  However, problems tend to arise when trying to develop a solid understanding of the exact differences between direct learning, map learning and Virtual Environment learning.  It was mentioned that there are direct contradictions between this study and past studies, as well as among those past studies.

While it may not explain all the differences, I believe that personal preference plays a huge role in the effectiveness of using a VE to understand a space versus a map or directly walking through the area.  Thus, our ability to spatially comprehend a space, whether it is a series of halls or an entire city block depends heavily on what sort of sources of information we prefer over others.  While reading the paper, I thought of a similarity between this study and how we learn in a classroom.  It is obvious that all people do not like to learn concepts in the same way.  That is, some people prefer to learn by doing, while others prefer to have something explained to them in a very concise and clear manner.  I believe that this sort of preferential learning can be extended to these concepts of spatial cognition.  As VE becomes more advanced and ubiquitous, I think that some people will still find it difficult to use it as a means of learning about a place and would rather look at a bird’s-eye-view map to understand the space.  Others will tend to reject the “antiquated” notion of maps and prefer to virtually explore somewhere before they actually go there.   Regardless, I am very excited to see how far the use of VE goes in terms of understanding an area before we go there.  Will we get to the point where we could essentially “place” ourselves on any point on the Earth and explore it as if we are there?   Instead of a map of campus, will students be able to download a VE of the building they will spend the most time in and have a walkthrough to their classrooms and respective libraries?  All this could get very interesting within the next couple decades.





Comments are closed.