Publication details

Reading satellite images, aerial photos and maps: Development of cartographic and visual literacy



Year of publication 2017
Type Chapter of a book
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Education

Description Digital aerial and satellite images are easily accessible for public use and frequently employed in social media. The widespread publishing of aerial and satellite images has raised questions about how non-experts interpret these images, how they are able to interpret orthogonal and oblique images and true-colour and not-true-colour images and how they contend with an absence of text or object descriptions in these documents. Research participants (11-, 15- and 19-year-old students) were asked to solve spatial tasks in images and maps of various types. Differences in the efficiency of task solution regarding various types of source documents were analysed, and the generated scores were evaluated according to the participants’ age and gender. Schoolchildren and students were asked to provide their opinions on the difficulty of reading the various image types and their preference for either maps or images as a source for acquiring information. From our study we conclude that: Age has an impact on the efficiency of image and map interpretation. Younger students, for example, 11-year-olds are better at handling tasks in images, while for 15-year-olds the difference between handling tasks in images and maps is much smaller. Lastly, 19-year-old students can better solve tasks in maps. The efficiency of interpretation varies based on gender and source material. The efficiency of solving tasks in aerial images is comparable. Eleven-year-old girls can handle tasks in maps better than boys of the same age. In the groups comprised of 15- and 19-year-olds, the boys are much more successful. The results of the evaluation of objective efficiency regarding image and map interpretation correspond with the subjective preference for maps or images: 11-year-old students prefer images; 19-year-old students prefer maps. The purpose of this research is to discover effective teaching methods in geography and to support the integration of aerial and satellite images in education.

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