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 / Livre / Conférence

Frontiers in Psychology (Developmental 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.








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