The effects of using GPS systems on spatial knowledge acquisition and the respective role of spatial design

Ahmadpoor, Negar (2019) The effects of using GPS systems on spatial knowledge acquisition and the respective role of spatial design. PhD thesis, The University of Nottingham.

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Navigation is one of the very first and common spatial behaviours that human-beings do within the physical environment; it is defined as a process of moving within the place with a goal of reaching a destination in a timely manner. This behaviour might seem to be a simple task since it is very common; however, it involves many multilevel cognitive processing and thus has received considerable attention from different disciplines. The recent emergence of Location-Based Services and the use of its popular form as mobile navigation systems by people in their everyday life have had a significant impact on navigation process. As people are increasingly using mobile navigation systems, research from a broad range of disciplines has examined the effectiveness of these systems, some of which have picked up worrying signs related to their use. One of these issues is concerned with spatial knowledge acquisition. The empirical studies, using different methods, have examined the effects of information provision by mobile navigation systems on people’s spatial knowledge acquisition; they have studied the extent of which, people who use mobile navigation systems, can comprehend the physical environment comparing to those who do not use such systems or use other types of assistance, such as physical maps; or how accurately they can remember the location of the physical elements such as landmarks and spatial organisation between them, as well as how well they can estimate distances and directions between places. These studies have often demonstrated that mobile navigation systems are not very effective tools in helping people to acquire spatial knowledge. Nonetheless, there is a lack of study on the relationship between the physical features of the physical environment and the extent of spatial knowledge acquisition by mobile navigation systems. Research has shown that the physical environment, which navigation takes place within, is known as a key determinant in helping people to acquire spatial knowledge and has found many spatial factors of the physical environment that are influential on people’s spatial knowledge acquisition, such as specific positions of landmark along the route, the form and length of routes, the shape and form of landmarks, the configurational complexity of the environment, the number of turns along a route, and the number of intersections linked together in a given setting. However, analysing the influence of such spatial factors on spatial knowledge acquisition of people using mobile navigation system has received little attention.

This thesis has two objectives, firstly to compare the spatial knowledge acquisition of pedestrians who used GPS for navigation in an unfamiliar urban environment in comparison to those who navigate the same environment without assistance, non-GPS group; and secondly, to identify the spatial factors that are influential on their spatial knowledge acquisition. To this end, this thesis firstly discusses the research background on studying the effects of using mobile maps on people’s spatial knowledge acquisition as well as the intersection of spatial factors and spatial knowledge acquisition in navigation. The thesis then compares spatial knowledge acquisition among GPS and non-GPS groups, that have been through the study site, by using the method of sketch map drawing. Furthermore, the thesis examines the association between the extent to which the elements of the physical environment, specifically, landmarks, paths, and nodes are depicted correctly in the sketch maps amongst the two groups and their physical- spatial features in real world. The degree of depiction correctness of each element in the sketch maps are then examined for paths in relation to the path length and the number of turns along them in the real world as well as the existence of internal/external landmarks long the path; for nodes, they were tested in relation to the number of the node-legs, and existence of landmarks at their corners; for landmarks, their visibility to the participant in the site was tested. Also, a photo recognition test was used as a method to assess the two groups’ (GPS, and non-GPS) visual knowledge of the site. A correlational study was then conducted to determine the relationship between the visual knowledge of the participants and the physical features of the elements in the site.

This study is grounded in the conceptual framework of Environment and Behaviour (E & B). Studying urban environments and their impact on residents’ spatial cognition is a subarea of E & B studies, which aims to contribute to people’s quality of life and well-being. It also can shed light on the spatial decision-making and behaviour of individuals. In practice, the applicability of cognitive studies can inform the future urban design and planning for a better living and working environment.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Heath, Tim
Keywords: Spatial knowledge acquisition; Navigation; GPS; Visual knowledge
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Engineering > Built Environment
Item ID: 55553
Depositing User: Ahmadpoormobarakeh, Negar
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2019 12:20
Last Modified: 07 May 2020 11:45

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