When judgments of learning meet space: An investigation of the characteristics of mental representations of space and of the subjective feeling of learning space.
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Spatial information can be acquired either directly, like when traveling from one place to another, or indirectly, like when we consult a map or read the description of a certain environment. Also, depending on the type of input, space can be experienced from a survey perspective, such as when reading a description formulated from bird’s eye view, or from a route perspective, as in any situation in which locations of targets are coded relatively to the observer. There is some evidence that the way space is presented produces differences in mental representations, particularly with space that is not well learned. However, other evidence suggests that, as learning of space progresses such differences disappear. These findings will be further investigated in the proposed study with a specific focus on whether the perspective from which an environment is learned is retained in its mental representation. Although understanding the characteristics of mental representations of space is important, an issue that has not been considered in the spatial cognition literature concerns individuals’ subjective experience of learning space. Knowing whether individuals can judge how well a certain space has been learned is extremely important in terms of developing the right aids to support the acquisition of spatial information. In the proposed study, subjective experience of learning spatial information will be investigated by borrowing the judgments of learning (JOL) methodology from the metacognition literature. By asking participants to predict how well they think they will be able to remember and use the spatial information acquired, it will be possible to gather insights on the processes operating during learning of spatial information. Finally, given that gender differences are constantly reported in the spatial cognition literature, this study will address the issue of whether males and females differ in the way mental representations of space are developed and in their subjective experience of learning spatial information.