Using the perspective of situated cognition we studied how people interact with a physical map to help them navigate through an unfamiliar environment. The study used a mixture of cognitive ethnography and traditional experimental methods. We found that the difference between high and low performing navigators showed up in the speed they completed their task and also in the way they use maps. High performers plan routes using a survey method whereas low performers use a route strategy. We suggest that when people are given a task that does not match their cognitive style they try to transform the task to better suit their cognitive abilities and cognitive style.