The development of wayfinding abilities in children; Learning routes with and without landmarks

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Young children experience wayfinding difficulties. A better understanding of the development of wayfinding abilities may inform strategies that can be used to improve these skills in children. The ability to learn and remember a route was assessed in 220 6, 8, and 10-year old children and adults. Participants were shown a route in a virtual environment, before they were asked to retrace this route until they had achieved two consecutive trials without error. The virtual environment contained no landmarks, landmarks, or landmarks that were verbally labelled. Adults, 10-year-olds and most 8-year-olds learnt the route when landmarks were present, but not all the 6-year-olds were successful. All age groups of children improved when the landmarks were labelled. Children were much poorer when there were no landmarks. This is the first study to distinguish between route learning dependent on landmarks, and route learning without landmarks, dependent on directions.

Journal of Environmental Psychology

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Jamie Lingwood
Research Fellow

My research interests include language development, language processing, and shared book reading.