Interface familiarity restores active advantage in a virtual exploration and reconstruction task in children

George Sandamas, Nigel Foreman, Mark Coulson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Active exploration is reportedly better than passive observation of spatial displacements in real environments, for the acquisition of relational spatial information, especially by children. However, a previous study using a virtual environment (VE) showed that children in a passive observation condition performed better than actives when asked to reconstruct in reality the environment explored virtually. Active children were unpractised in using the input device, which may have detracted from any active advantage, since input device operation may be regarded as a concurrent task, increasing cognitive load and spatial working memory demands. To examine this possibility, 7-8-year-old children in the present study were given 5 minutes of training with the joystick input device. When compared with passive participants for spatial learning, active participants gave a better performance than passives, placing objects significantly more accurately. The importance of interface training when using VEs for assessment and training was discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-108
Number of pages13
JournalSpatial Cognition and Computation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Activity and passivity
  • Children
  • Spatial learning
  • Virtual environments

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