Development of topographical orientation skills in seven to ten year old children
Committee MemberGraham, Susan
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AbstractIn this dissertation, I investigated children’s development of topographical orientation skills. Specifically, I examined children’s performance on a navigation task in a virtual museum. In Chapter 2, I described the methodology used in this experiment. The computer task comprised of an interactive game that consisted of three sections: a practice motor task, a guided tour around a virtual museum, and a testing phase. After children were introduced to the environment, they were required to navigate from one location of the museum to a goal location as quickly as possible. Game performance was assessed by how much time and travel distance were required to reach a target location. In order to assess different cognitive domains supporting topographical orientation skills, a neuropsychological battery was administered. Finally, both children and parents completed self-rated questionnaires of the children’s general spatial behaviours. In Chapter 3, the main experimental results were described. Game performance was significantly correlated with age and several neuropsychological measures with emphasis on visual spatial processing. Game performance was also correlated with history of gaming experience and technology use. A multiple linear regression analysis revealed that game performance was best explained by performance on spatial working memory and visual-spatial organization tasks, once video game experience was accounted for. Only children’s self-reported ratings of their spatial orientation and navigation skills were correlated with one of two measures of game performance, whereas parents’ ratings were not. When compared to adult performance on the computer game, even the oldest group of children tested was still not as efficient as adults in solving the task, suggesting that development of topographical orientation skills continue well into adolescence and young adulthood. Chapter 4 summarized and explored the aforementioned findings in greater detail. Additional statistical analyses and discussion regarding the pilot study, a group of children who participated in a repeat session of the computer game, and a group of younger children tested are described in Appendix B.
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