The effect of barriers on spatial representations.


48 first graders and 48 fifth graders learned the arrangement of 6 objects in a novel environment containing 2 large barriers. 3 nonoverlapping paths, each connecting all locations, were devised. Children were assigned to 4 experimental conditions representing the factorial combination of number of trials of walking (2 vs. 3) and path experience (same vs. different). Those in the same path-experience group walked the same path over trials, while those in the different path-experience group walked a different path on each trial. Following these walking experiences, the children used markers to reconstruct the environmental configuration from memory. Based on the interpoint distances calculated from these placements, the presence of barriers led to overestimations of distance only for those children who received less experience, which was distributed across a variety of paths (different path experience/2-trials group). These overestimations occurred primarily for barrier-present interpoint distances viewed but not directly walked. These results are discussed in terms of the opportunities for coordinating and integrating spatial perspectives provided by these environmental experiences.

Publication Title

Child development