A Developmental Perspective on Young Children’s Understandings of Paired Graphics Conventions From an Analogy Task.


Journal Article


Boucheix, J. M., Lowe, R. K., Thibaut, J. P.




A Developmental Perspective on Young Children’s Understandings of Paired Graphics Conventions From an Analogy Task.

Journal / book / conference

Frontiers in Psychology


The present study investigated children’s understanding development of multiple graphics, here paired conventions commonly used in primary school textbooks. Paired graphics depicting everyday objects familiar to the children were used as the basis for an analogy task that tested their comprehension of five graphics conventions. This task required participants to compare pictures in a base pair in order to complete a target pair by choosing the correct picture from five alternative possibilities. Four groups of children aged 5, 6, 8, and 10 years old respectively (total N = 105), completed 45 analogy task items built around nine conceptual domains. Results showed mainly an overall increase of comprehension performance with age for all the tested conventions. There were also differences between the five conventions and an interaction between age and convention type. Further, children’s explanation of the conventions (justification of the choices in the analogy task) were also analyzed. This investigation showed the analogy task answers were a more reliable measure of the “actual” level of understanding of the conventions than the justification themselves. The findings show that younger students tried to actively compare the pictures of the pairs and to search for a relevant meaning of the pairs, however, the youngest children have a limited capacity to interpret paired graphic conventions and our results suggests that this aspect of graphic conventions develops slowly but effectively over the course of children’s schooling. Because “graphicacy” knowledge and skills are not typically taught in primary school classrooms (in contrast with literacy and numeracy), its development is likely acquired incidentally with increasing exposure to varied paired graphics during primary school education. Given the high reliance of today’s educational resources on graphics-based explanations, the results from this study may signal a need for (i) for more attention to learning graphics conventions (and more generally to graphics explanations) from teachers in primary school and (ii) for a better design of the graphics with their contextual accompanying texts and captions, from designers.






graphicacy development, graphic convention understanding, analogy task, children, school-books


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