Spatial Cognition and Map Interpretation
Final technical rept. Jul 1985-Mar 1987
ARMY RESEARCH INST FOR THE BEHAVIORAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCES ALEXANDRIA VA
Pagination or Media Count:
The effectiveness of the Map Interpretation and Terrain Association Course MITAC developed by the Navy Personnel Research Development Center was evaluated, in cooperation with the First Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, CA. MITAC instruction significantly improved subjects ability to perform terrain association, a critical skill in position location. In addition, individual differences in spatial abilities were assessed to identify cognitive components underlying map interpretation. Two components, orientation and visualization, were found to be equally important for predicting real-world position location. Additionally, comparison of experimental and control groups spatial aptitude scores indicated that the success of MITAC in improving terrain association was not a result of increased spatial aptitude. Instead, the course was effective because it taught a procedural, orientation strategy that can be learned by those with low spatial ability. Finally, field and classroom performance was compared to wayfinding in a simulated videogame environment in which position coordinates were available during play. Game performance was significantly related to both field and classroom performance, and to spatial aptitude. High- spatial-aptitude individuals travelled farther between requests for position information, suggesting that they have larger spatial memory spans.