Beyond concepts of print: Development of concepts of graphics in text, prek to grade 3

Nell K. Duke, Rebecca R. Norman, Kathryn L. Roberts, Nicole M. Martin, Jennifer A. Knight, Paul M. Morsink, Sara L. Calkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Drawing on the literature on concepts of print and graphics in text, as well as informal observations of children, we identified eight concepts that we posit are fundamental to understanding how graphics work in text: Action (static graphics can be interpreted as representing dynamic action), Intentionality (graphics are chosen by authors to accomplish a communicative purpose within a larger text), Permanence (graphics in printed texts are permanent and do not change), Relevance (graphics and written text are related), Representation (illustrations and photographs represent objects, but do not share the same physical properties as those objects), Partiality (not everything in the written text must be represented in the graphics), Extension (some graphics provide additional information that is not present in the written text), and Importance (some information in a graphic may be more important than other information). We administered a series of tasks to tap understanding of these concepts among 60 children in grades preK to 3. Results revealed considerable variation within any given grade level in children's acquisition of concepts of graphics; some children have acquired concepts of graphics that their peers have not. In general, more children demonstrated acquisition of a given concept at higher grade levels. All or nearly all children displayed full acquisition as follows: Actionby the end of preK; Intentionality, Permanence, and Relevanceby the end of grade 2; Representation and Partialityby the end of grade 3. Less than half demonstrated full acquisition of the concepts of Extension and Importance even at the end of grade 3.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-203
Number of pages29
JournalResearch in the Teaching of English
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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