Heuristics for knowledge acquisition from maps

by Perry W. Thorndyke

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Acquiring knowledge from a map depends upon procedures for focusing attention, encoding information, and integrating diverse knowledge. This paper describes the heuristics people use to study and learn maps. Verbal protocols obtained from eight subjects suggested four categories of procedures that were invoked during learning: attention, encoding, evaluation, and control. The use of certain heuristics in each category was highly predictive of learning success. Good learners differed from poor learners in their ability to encode spatial information, to evaluate their learning progress, and to focus their attention in accordance with a learning plan. Many of the successful heuristics appear to be readily trainable.

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