Digital sketch maps and eye tracking statistics as instruments to obtain insights into spatial cognition
This paper explores map users’ cognitive processes in learning, acquiring and remembering information presented via screen maps. In this context, we conducted a mixed-methods user experiment employing digital sketch maps and eye tracking. On the one hand, the performance of the participants was assessed based on the order with which the objects were drawn and the influence of visual variables (e.g. presence & location, size, shape, color). On the other hand, trial durations and eye tracking statistics such as average duration of fixations, and number of fixations per seconds were compared. Moreover, selected AoIs (Area of Interests) were explored to gain a deeper insight on visual behavior of map users. Depending on the normality of the data, we used either two-way ANOVA or Mann-Whitney U test to inspect the significance of the results. Based on the evaluation of the drawing order, we observed that experts and males drew roads first whereas; novices and females focused more on hydrographic object. According to the assessment of drawn elements, no significant differences emerged between neither experts and novices, nor females and males for the retrieval of spatial information presented on 2D maps with a simple design and content. The differences in trial durations between novices and experts were not statistically significant while both studying and drawing. Similarly, no significant difference occurred between female and male participants for either studying or drawing. Eye tracking metrics also supported these findings. For average duration of fixation, there was found no significant difference between experts and novices, as well as between females and males. Similarly, no significant differences were found for the mean number of fixation.
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