249 research outputs found

    Reorienting with terrain slope and landmarks

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    Orientation (or reorientation) is the first step in navigation, because establishing a spatial frame of reference is essential for a sense of location and heading direction. Recent research on nonhuman animals has revealed that the vertical component of an environment provides an important source of spatial information, in both terrestrial and aquatic settings. Nonetheless, humans show large individual and sex differences in the ability to use terrain slope for reorientation. To understand why some participants—mainly women—exhibit a difficulty with slope, we tested reorientation in a richer environment than had been used previously, including both a tilted floor and a set of distinct objects that could be used as landmarks. This environment allowed for the use of two different strategies for solving the task, one based on directional cues (slope gradient) and one based on positional cues (landmarks). Overall, rather than using both cues, participants tended to focus on just one. Although men and women did not differ significantly in their encoding of or reliance on the two strategies, men showed greater confidence in solving the reorientation task. These facts suggest that one possible cause of the female difficulty with slope might be a generally lower spatial confidence during reorientation

    The world is not flat: Can people reorient using slope?

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    Studies of spatial representation generally focus on flat environments and visual input. However, the world is not flat, and slopes are part of most natural environments. In a series of 4 experiments, we examined whether humans can use a slope as a source of allocentric, directional information for reorientation. A target was hidden in a corner of a square, featureless enclosure tilted at a 5° angle. Finding it required using the vestibular, kinesthetic, and visual cues associated with the slope gradient. In Experiment 1, the overall sample performed above chance, showing that slope is sufficient for reorientation in a real environment. However, a sex difference emerged; men outperformed women by 1.4 SDs because they were more likely to use a slope-based strategy. In Experiment 2, attention was drawn to the slope, and participants were prompted to rely on it to solve the task; however, men still outperformed women, indicating a greater ability to use slope. In Experiment 3, we excluded the possibility that women\u27s disadvantage was due to wearing heeled footwear. In Experiment 4, women required more time than men to identify the uphill direction of the slope gradient; this suggests that, in a bottom-up fashion, a perceptual or attentional difficulty underlies women\u27s disadvantage in the ability to use slope and their decreased reliance on this cue. Overall, a bi-coordinate representation was used to find the goal: The target was encoded primarily with respect to the vertical axis and secondarily with respect to the orthogonal axis of the slope

    The Role of Slope in Human Reorientation

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    Studies of spatial representation generally focus on flat environments and visual stimuli. However, the world is not flat, and slopes are part of many natural environments. In a series of four experiments, we examined whether humans can use a slope as a source of allocentric, directional information for reorientation. A target was hidden in a corner of a square, featureless enclosure tilted at a 5° angle. Finding it required using the vestibular, kinesthetic and vis-ual cues associated with the slope gradient. Participants succeeded in the task; however, a large sex difference emerged. Men showed a greater ability in using slope and a greater preference for relying on slope as a searching strategy. The female disadvantage was not due to wearing heeled shoes, but was probably re-lated to a greater difficulty in extracting the vertical axis of the slope

    Reorienting with terrain slope and landmarks

    Get PDF
    Orientation (or reorientation) is the first step in navigation, because establishing a spatial frame of reference is essential for a sense of location and heading direction. Recent research on nonhuman animals has revealed that the vertical component of an environment provides an important source of spatial information, in both terrestrial and aquatic settings. Nonetheless, humans show large individual and sex differences in the ability to use terrain slope for reorientation. To understand why some participants—mainly women—exhibit a difficulty with slope, we tested reorientation in a richer environment than had been used previously, including both a tilted floor and a set of distinct objects that could be used as landmarks. This environment allowed for the use of two different strategies for solving the task, one based on directional cues (slope gradient) and one based on positional cues (landmarks). Overall, rather than using both cues, participants tended to focus on just one. Although men and women did not differ significantly in their encoding of or reliance on the two strategies, men showed greater confidence in solving the reorientation task. These facts suggest that one possible cause of the female difficulty with slope might be a generally lower spatial confidence during reorientation

    Spatial Sampling Strategies with Multiple Scientific Frames of Reference

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    We study the spatial sampling strategies employed by field scientists studying aeolian processes, which are geophysical interactions between wind and terrain. As in geophysical field science in general, observations of aeolian processes are made and data gathered by carrying instruments to various locations and then deciding when and where to record a measurement. We focus on this decision-making process. Because sampling is physically laborious and time consuming, scientists often develop sampling plans in advance of deployment, i.e., employ an offline decision-making process. However, because of the unpredictable nature of field conditions, sampling strategies generally have to be updated online. By studying data from a large field deployment, we show that the offline strategies often consist of sampling along linear segments of physical space, called transects. We proceed by studying the sampling pattern on individual transects. For a given transect, we formulate model-based hypotheses that the scientists may be testing and derive sampling strategies that result in optimal hypothesis tests. Different underlying models lead to qualitatively different optimal sampling behavior. There is a clear mismatch between our first optimal sampling strategy and observed behavior, leading us to conjecture about other, more sophisticated hypothesis tests that may be driving expert decision-making behavior. For more information: Kod*la

    Using analogy to learn about phenomena at scales outside of human perception

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    Understanding and reasoning about phenomena at scales outside human perception (for example, geologic time) is critical across science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Thus, devising strong methods to support acquisition of reasoning at such scales is an important goal in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. In two experiments, we examine the use of analogical principles in learning about geologic time. Across both experiments we find that using a spatial analogy (for example, a time line) to make multiple alignments, and keeping all unrelated components of the analogy held constant (for example, keep the time line the same length), leads to better understanding of the magnitude of geologic time. Effective approaches also include hierarchically and progressively aligning scale information (Experiment 1) and active prediction in making alignments paired with immediate feedback (Experiments 1 and 2)

    What Geoscience Experts And Novices Look At, And What They See, When Viewing Data Visualizations

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    This study examines how geoscience experts and novices make meaning from an iconic type of data visualization: shaded relief images of bathymetry and topography.  Participants examined, described, and interpreted a global image, two high-resolution seafloor images, and 2 high-resolution continental images, while having their gaze direction eye-tracked and their utterances and gestures videoed. In addition, experts were asked about how they would coach an undergraduate intern on how to interpret this data.  Not unexpectedly, all experts were more skillful than any of the novices at describing and explaining what they were seeing.  However, the novices showed a wide range of performance.  Along the continuum from weakest novice to strongest expert, proficiency developed in the following order: making qualitative observations of salient features, making simple interpretations, making quantitative observations.  The eye-tracking analysis examined how the experts and novices invested 20 seconds of unguided exploration, after the image came into view but before the researcher began to ask questions.  On the cartographic elements of the images, experts and novices allocated their exploration time differently:  experts invested proportionately more fixations on the latitude and longitude axes, while students paid more attention to the color bar.  In contrast, within the parts of the image showing the actual geomorphological data, experts and novices on average allocated their attention similarly, attending preferentially to the geologically significant landforms.   Combining their spoken responses with their eye-tracking behavior, we conclude that the experts and novices are looking in the same places but “seeing” different things

    Up by Upwest: Is Slope like North?

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    Terrain slope can be used to encode the location of a goal. However, this directional information may be encoded using a conceptual north (i.e., invariantly with respect to the environment), or in an observer-relative fashion (i.e., varying depending on the direction one faces when learning the goal). This study examines which representation is used, whether the sensory modality in which slope is encoded (visual, kinaesthetic, or both) influences representations, and whether use of slope varies for men and women. In a square room, with a sloped floor explicitly pointed out as the only useful cue, participants encoded the corner in which a goal was hidden. Without direct sensory access to slope cues, participants used a dial to point to the goal. For each trial, the goal was hidden uphill or downhill, and the participants were informed whether they faced uphill or downhill when pointing. In support of observer-relative representations, participants pointed more accurately and quickly when facing concordantly with the hiding position. There was no effect of sensory modality, providing support for functional equivalence. Sex did not interact with the findings on modality or reference frame, but spatial measures correlated with success on the slope task differently for each sex

    Research on Cognitive Domain in Geoscience Learning: Temporal and Spatial Reasoning

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    The geosciences are characterized by their particular application of and reliance on temporal and spatial reasoning. Geoscientists must be able to apply their knowledge across a variety of scales. The ability to engage with this kind of task represents a great shift in thinking from where most students begin their studies, be that in K-12 or college. In order to understand how people\u27s ability to spatial and temporal reasoning changes over time requires identification of what skills are essential, assessment of those skills, and then exploration of the impacts of different targeted interventions in geoscience contexts. While more is known about how people reason spatially as compared with temporally, there are still significant gaps in our understanding of spatial reasoning in the geosciences. There are opportunities to build on lessons learned from previous investigations of spatial thinking (e.g. the Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center), including how a community can investigate a specific line of reasoning. There is also a need to build on established research from other domains, from anthropology to cognitive science to physics. In this chapter the authors identified and describe three grand challenges to better understand the need for and growth of spatial and temporal reasoning in geoscience education. These include identifying what reasonings or skills are essential to the geosciences (both broadly and within subdisciplines), and the intertwined challenge of how to assess those reasonings and use those results to improve on what students are learning from their geoscience experiences

    How can geologic decision making under uncertainty be improved?

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    Financial support: This research has been supported by the National Science Foundation (Science of Learning Collaborative Network (grant no. 1640800), National Robotics Initiative (grant no. 1734365), and Future of Work at the Human Technology Frontier (grant no. 1839705)) and the Royal Society of Edinburgh (Research sabbatical grant).Peer reviewedPublisher PD
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