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Title: Using virtual environments to investigate wayfinding in children and adults
Author: Lingwood, Jamie
ISNI:       0000 0004 5346 698X
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2015
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Although children experience difficulties in finding their way, adults are very competent at wayfinding. Very little research has been aimed at training young children to improve their wayfinding skills and we do not know how adults come to be so good at wayfinding. There are theories about how children and adults learn routes, but until now these theories have not been tested in controlled and realistic environments called virtual environments (VEs). In Experiment 1, 6- to 10-year olds and adults learnt a 6 turn maze that contained (i) no landmarks (ii) landmarks or (iii) landmarks that were verbally labelled by the experimenter. Adults, 10-year olds and most 8-year olds learnt the maze when landmarks were present, but not all the 6-year olds were successful. All age groups of children improved when the landmarks were labelled for them. In Experiment 2 and 3 we found that adults made very few errors when retracing a maze between nine and 15 turns despite having viewed it only once. Experiment 4 showed that adults severely underestimated how good they would be at retracing a 15 turn route. Experiments 5, 6, and 7 found that when retracing routes adults consistently used different wayfinding strategies depending on the different types of junctions the mazes were made up of. Experiment 8 and 9 tested whether wayfinding strategies could be taught to 5-year olds and showed that verbally labelling on-route junction landmarks and encouraging children to attend to on-route junction landmarks improved wayfinding. Experiment 10 showed that children as young as 7 were able to retrace a 12 turn maze and that from the age of 10 children become adult-like in their wayfinding abilities. Experiment 11 found that wayfinding was not an automatic process and required sustained attention. The overall findings from this thesis and their implications are discussed.
Supervisor: Blades, Mark ; Matthews, Danielle Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available