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Technology and Map-Learning: Users, Methods, and Symbols

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This article investigates the cognitive processes used by learners (adults and young adolescents) for tasks that require the integration of geographical information across spaces, hierarchies, and geographic scales. An experiment simulated basic GIS functions and contained four experimental conditions (Chunk, Layer, Scale, and Whole). Reaction time, accuracy, and confidence were recorded as dependent variables related to the success of the integration process. The data were used as input for a back-propagation neural-network model. The neural network model was successful in learning patterns and could be used to predict the confidence, reaction time, and accuracy for combinations of learners, experimental conditions, and map-feature categories. A multivariate analysis of variance was used to determine significant relationships among the behavioral variables and characteristics of the learners, experimental conditions related to GIS functions, and map features (points, lines, and areas). The results of the analysis generally indicated that young adolescent learners were slower, less accurate, and more confident than adult learners for all experimental conditions. Overall, subjects were more accurate and confident in tasks that required less integration of geographical information. Learners had the most success recalling information related to area symbols and the least success recalling information related to point symbols.
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Keywords: GIS; neural network; spatial abilities; spatial cognition; young adolescents

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of South Carolina 2: Central Michigan University

Publication date: 2003-12-01

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