Computer Science Technical Reports
CS at VT

Supporting Memorization and Problem Solving with Spatial Information Presentations in Virtual Environments

Ragan, Eric and Bowman, Doug and Huber, Karl (2011) Supporting Memorization and Problem Solving with Spatial Information Presentations in Virtual Environments. Technical Report TR-11-18, Computer Science, Virginia Tech.

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While it has been suggested that immersive virtual environments could provide benefits for educational applications, few studies have formally evaluated how the enhanced perceptual displays of such systems might improve learning. Using simplified memorization and problem-solving tasks as representative approximations of more advanced types of learning, we are investigating the effects of providing supplemental spatial information on the performance of learning-based activities within virtual environments. We performed two experiments to investigate whether users can take advantage of a spatial information presentation to improve performance on cognitive processing activities. In both experiments, information was presented either directly in front of the participant or wrapped around the participant along the walls of a surround display. In our first experiment, we found that the spatial presentation caused better performance on a memorization and recall task. To investigate whether the advantages of spatial information presentation extend beyond memorization to higher level cognitive activities, our second experiment employed a puzzle-like task that required critical thinking using the presented information. The results indicate that no performance improvements or mental workload reductions were gained from the spatial presentation method compared to a non-spatial layout for our problem-solving task. The results of these two experiments suggest that supplemental spatial information can support performance improvements for cognitive processing and learning-based activities, but its effectiveness is dependent on the nature of the task and a meaningful use of space.

Item Type:Departmental Technical Report
Keywords:spatial information presentation, learning, virtual environment, memorization
Subjects:Computer Science > Virtual Environments
ID Code:1164
Deposited By:Ragan, Eric
Deposited On:31 January 2013