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authors Goerger, S., Darken, R., Boyd, M., Gagnon, T., Liles, S., Sullivan, J. and Lawson, J.
year 1996
title Spatial Knowledge Acquisition from Maps and Virtual Environments in Complex Architectural Space
source Proc. 16 th Applied Behavioral Sciences Symposium, 22-23 April, U.S. Airforce Academy, Colorado Springs, CO., 1996, 6-10
summary It has often been suggested that due to its inherent spatial nature, a virtual environment (VE) might be a powerful tool for spatial knowledge acquisition of a real environment, as opposed to the use of maps or some other two-dimensional, symbolic medium. While interesting from a psychological point of view, a study of the use of a VE in lieu of a map seems nonsensical from a practical point of view. Why would the use of a VE preclude the use of a map? The more interesting investigation would be of the value added of the VE when used with a map. If the VE could be shown to substantially improve navigation performance, then there might be a case for its use as a training tool. If not, then we have to assume that maps continue to be the best spatial knowledge acquisition tool available. An experiment was conducted at the Naval Postgraduate School to determine if the use of an interactive, three-dimensional virtual environment would enhance spatial knowledge acquisition of a complex architectural space when used in conjunction with floor plan diagrams. There has been significant interest in this research area of late. Witmer, Bailey, and Knerr (1995) showed that a VE was useful in acquiring route knowledge of a complex building. Route knowledge is defined as the procedural knowledge required to successfully traverse paths between distant locations (Golledge, 1991). Configurational (or survey) knowledge is the highest level of spatial knowledge and represents a map-like internal encoding of the environment (Thorndyke, 1980). The Witmer study could not confirm if configurational knowledge was being acquired. Also, no comparison was made to a map-only condition, which we felt is the most obvious alternative. Comparisons were made only to a real world condition and a symbolic condition where the route is presented verbally.
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