Not sure if this is the right place for this question that I find hard to formulate in the first place...
In a paper, I'd like to argue that interactivity helps to develop an understanding of a thing. This is in context is astronomy, scientists learning about the universe basically. I'd like to argue in favour of interactive data exploration. This is not going to be a psychology paper. To put it bluntly, I'd like to better understand this to write the motivational section, use the proper terms, and have a nice citation I can put at the end of it :)
Let me try to explain what I'm after.
Google Maps analogy:
Interative maps give an overview of the world and then allow the user to zoom in, pan around and look at streetview pics. If this information would be presented in a non-interative way, say a box you can put coordinates in and you get the streetview picture out a minute later, the user would not just be slower, but would not be able to explore and understand the world in the same way that interactive maps allow.
Say you have two parameters and an result value that results from it due to some hidden math. If I give you two sliders, you can play around with them and develop a sense for the correlation easily, a child would get an intuition for it. But if I give you a form where you have to type in two numbers and press a button to see the result, it be almost impossible to develop the same level of understanding.
I think that the instantaneous feedback and the ability to 'play' with it, really make it far easier for us to learn.
Has there been some study of this kind of learning? Does it have a name? Where would I start to research this? How do I go about arguing that interactivity offers a great benefit to explore, say, a dataset? That interactivity offers more than just the efficency gained from less waiting for results.