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Children’s cognitive representations of the local environment

Paskins, J.O.; (2012) Children’s cognitive representations of the local environment. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis examines the relationship between children’s travel behaviour and their cognitive representations of the local environment. The aim is to examine the effects of children’s experience of travel behaviour in the local environment on the formation of their cognitive maps, particularly the effects of experience gained independently of adult supervision. There is a large degree of interplay between the factors within this relationship. Successful wayfinding is a prerequisite for independent travel, for example for walking to a friend’s house or visiting the local park without an adult. Children’s wayfinding relies on cognitive representations of the local environment which are used to plan routes and monitor their progress along them. Independent mobility allows children to build up cognitive representations of the local environment, and practice the skills that they require to travel alone further afield. The basic hypothesis under examination is that independent travel and activities result in better cognitive representations of the local environment. One reason for this is that there are differences between the experiences of children who are passengers in cars and buses, and those who are involved in active travel. As passengers, children do not need to focus on the detail of the journey, particularly during car journeys. The roles of travel mode and whether the child was accompanied by an adult are examined. The research in this thesis uses GPS data, questionnaires and sketch maps to examine children’s behaviour and their environmental knowledge. Sketch maps have been analysed for style, detail and accuracy. The measurement of accuracy, obtained using bidimensional regression, has been combined with a measure of detail to provide an overall map score. Analysis of variance revealed significant gains in map scores as children become older and if they spend more of their travel time walking than in the car.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Children’s cognitive representations of the local environment
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering

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