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Active versus passive learning and testing in a complex outside built environment

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A review of the evidence on active and passive learning in virtual environments (VEs) suggests that both conditions have shown superiority under some conditions of learning and testing, but there is no consistent outcome pattern. Measures of transfer between virtual and real environments have also revealed a variety of outcomes. Following either active or passive learning in a VE, experiment 1 assessed measures of orientation and distance estimation in that VE and in a real-world equivalent environment. On measures of direct and relative distance, more accurate estimates were found for active than passive VE explorers. A suggestion was also noted for the orientation estimates to benefit from real-world rather than VE testing. With an improvement to the procedure, experiment 2 found similar real versus virtual orientation judgements, suggesting that an opportunity for active learning during the test procedure probably influenced orientation measures in experiment 1. We conclude that the effects of interactivity are unreliable and vary with the measures used, and that testing in virtual and real environments leads to similar outcomes.

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This research was supported by Grant CRG-972974 from NATO, and by Grant JC-981121-A000 from the French Direction Générale pour l’Armement (DGA). We thank Loïc Belingard, Virginie Dasse, and Frédéric Barthélemy who participated in the data collection.

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Correspondence to Patrick Péruch.

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Péruch, P., Wilson, P.N. Active versus passive learning and testing in a complex outside built environment. Cogn Process 5, 218–227 (2004).

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