Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Environmental Studies (MES)


Geography & Environmental Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Sean Doherty

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Cognitive mapping has attracted immense interest from many fields, creating collaborative and cross-disciplinary research. The study of cognitive maps enjoyed almost two decades of growth, until its decline in the early 1980s. By the 1990s, the new cross-disciplinary exchange with computer science and information technology has renewed interest in the field, which may be the next wave of cognitive mapping research explosion. This study will, through the development of an innovative tool and an in depth analysis of cognitive maps, namely, sequence, search for links between sequence and other variables, namely sketch map type classification, sketch map drawing processes and differences between female and male sketch maps. The methodological tool, namely MMAPIT, was a different approach from past studies to collect sketch maps. MMAPIT was a combination of hardware (Tablet PC) and software that allowed subjects to draw their sketch map directly on the tablet and recorded the drawing process in audio and video format. The drawing process was transcribed producing the sequence or order each element was drawn. The sequence data not only generated new ways of examining sketch maps, they also produced results worthy of note of new methodology used and the pairing of unlikely results. There were four major findings from this study, namely the fish tail graphical pattern, six ways to draw sketch maps, division of the landmark element into subgroups, and differences found between female and male produced sketch maps. The fish tail is a pattern resulting from the graphical presentation of the proportion of elements drawn at each sequence. This pattern showed the increase of landmarks and the decrease of paths throughout the graph. A second use of sequence was a method to classify sketch maps into map types including sequential, spatial and hybrid maps. Sequences were also input into a software, namely ClustalW, to cluster groups of subjects with similar sequence strings. This method not only classified map types but also revealed that sketch maps can be drawn through recalling elements in six different ways. These six drawing methods all started with paths, suggesting their importance as a framework for sketch map building. The recall order of elements is part of a larger study in psychology termed sequential spatial memory. In addition, this study also found gender differences; females drew more landmarks while males drew more paths. This study has only uncovered the beginning of the sequence puzzle. A larger sample population, cross-disciplinary work and investigation on links between sketch map sequence and memory are required to further our understanding of peoples’ perception of the environment and how that is reflected in the multilayered sketch maps. This understanding can lead to modelling peoples’ sketch maps followed by predicting travel behaviours.

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