PsychNology Journal, Volume 13, Number 1, 75 – 100
Impact of the spatial structuring of virtual towns on the navigation strategies of children aged 6 to 15 years old
Aspirante F.R.S. – FNRS, and Schools Administration Institute, Department of psychology and educational sciences, University of Mons, Belgium
Schools Administration Institute, Department of psychology and educational sciences, University of Mons, Belgium
Individuals navigating a space use two strategies: adults mainly use a ‘counting’ strategy (i.e. numbering or counting the intersection in the town; memorising a series of left and right turns from a given starting position), children rely more on a ‘response’ strategy (i.e. using reference points or landmarks; turn after the blue building). A lot of research into spatial cognition requires the use of virtual environments and uses regular environments (‘Cartesian grids, Squareland or city-block raster’ (Hamburger and Knauff, 2011), ‘radial maze’ type (Astur, Tropp, Sava, Constable and Markus, 2004), etc.) but few studies have focused on how children and adolescents learn to memorise an itinerary in a less regular environment (Nys, Gyselinck, Orriols and Hickmann, 2015). The originality of this work is to understand how children and adolescents learn to memorise an itinerary in a developmental perspective (participants aged 6 to 15 years old). The intention is also to identify any development in the strategies when the children and adolescents reproduce a route in two differently structured environments (cities with a regular or irregular plan). The results of the first experiment, conducted with V-Squarecity (a regular environment), show that the environment does not require the employment of response strategies, but may give rise to strategies for organising/storing spatial information (counting strategies). It will also be shown that younger children use response strategies and that older children develop counting strategies. The result of the second experiment, conducted with V-Sinuouscity (an irregular environment), reveal the reduced use of counting strategies. This work emphasises the need to take account of the nature of simulated spaces during studies on spatial strategies
KEYWORDS: Spatial cognition, Virtual reality, Navigation strategies, Structure of the environment, Child development, Adolescent development.