Graphics / Art

One major line of work concerns how individuals learn to extract meaning from graphic representations (e.g., “read” a map) and use graphic representations in the service of acquiring still more knowledge (e.g., use a map or graph to learn a concept from geography, geology, or ecology). Do children’s growing symbolic understanding and developing spatial concepts support these functions? Do parents' spatial-graphic behaviors (e.g., pointing out spatial relations while reading a picture book to their child) help develop their children’s understanding of graphic representations?

A second major line of work concerns the aesthetics of graphic representations. Do young children distinguish between the beauty of the subject of a graphic representation and the beauty of the representation itself? For example, when asked to rate and explain their ratings of photographs, do children focus on the content (e.g., “I like this one a lot because I like yellow flowers”) or on the photographic technique and surface (e.g., “I like the way the photographer got up close to the dog’s face so he looks sort of fuzzy”)? Are the differences we see among individuals due to their growing understanding of representational duality (understanding that representations are distinct from the things they represent)? of theory of mind (understanding that the creator had a communicative intent)? familiarity with the medium (knowing about techniques related to film, lighting, etc.)? Which developmental changes are due to general cognitive development, and which are due to expanded experience with a graphic medium like photography?