Icons versus symbols: investigating preschoolers' cartographic design
Making meaningful signs requires understanding both the informational and representational value of them. Signs convey specific information concerning the real object (referent) they “stand for” in an encrypted form. The current paper deals with the investigation of preschoolers’ coding orientation of cartographic symbols. The main purpose of the study was to investigate the degree of iconicity applied by preschoolers in the cartographic design they produced. It is assumed that preschoolers mainly construct highly iconic cartographic symbols according to a naturalistic approach to coding orientation. An experimental research was conducted in 3 nursery schools in a rural area of central Greece and comparative, qualitative analysis of data gathered during the pre- and post-test process was implemented. The sample consisted of 24 children: 12 boys and 12 girls (aged 4 to 6). The results indicate that systematic exposure to conventional cartographic symbols along with planned instruction and explicit teaching of the principles of graphic design in a cooperative and authentic learning environment yields positive learning results regarding children’s cartographic literacy.