The interaction of map resolution and spatial abilities on map learning

Christopher A. Sanchez, Russell Branaghan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


This study investigated how the addition of enhanced perceptual detail in a navigation interface interacts with learner characteristics and ultimately impacts learning; specifically memory for a route on a map. Previous research has shown both facilitative and prohibitive effect of adding perceptual detail to user interfaces. However, it is not clear how adding this kind of resolution might also interact with learner abilities. This study evaluated how well routes were remembered from maps that were either enhanced with actual satellite photography or presented in more traditional (low resolution) form by learners who differed in spatial ability. Results indicated that learners recalled a mapped route significantly better in the low perceptual detail condition than in the high detail condition and spatial visualization ability significantly predicted success on these tasks whereas mental rotation ability did not. Thus, it appears that the addition of perceptual detail not only affects learning, but also interacts with learner ability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-481
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Human Computer Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009


  • Map learning
  • Perceptual detail
  • Spatial abilities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Education
  • General Engineering
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Hardware and Architecture


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