Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Lani Van Dusen


Lani Van Dusen


Susan Crowley


Xitao Fan


Tamara Ferguson


Andrew Gibbons


In this study, the idea that authenticity should be integral to graphicacy research was advanced. That is, graphicacy researchers should use graphical stimuli that most closely approximate graphs as they might be encountered in the real world (i.e., in text books, newspapers, journals, etc.). It was contended that because of the lack of task authenticity and experimental control inherent in past studies of the analytical tasks and perceptual skills underlying graph reading, there was a need for further study of these issues. To this end, a 24-item graphicacy test was devised, such that key graphical elements and specifiers were more tightly controlled across test items and more closely approximated graphs as they might appear in a real-world setting.

An analysis of data revealed strong support for the independence of analytical tasks and basic perceptual skills, when single test items were considered. However, when the data from basic perceptual skills were collapsed across analytical tasks, there was moderate performance overlap among the different perceptual skills. When analytical tasks were collapsed across perceptual skills, there was little performance overlap among analytical tasks.

The other critical issue that was studied was the ranking of basic perceptual skills and analytical tasks according to the judgment accuracy associated with them. When all factors are taken into account, this study's ranking of basic perceptual skills was inconsistent with the predictions of the basic perceptual skills model. Conversely, this study's ranking of analytical tasks was moderately supportive of the analytical tasks model. In addition to (and in light of) other analyses performed and explanations rendered, alternative, more compact conceptions of analytical tasks and perceptual skills were advanced as well as the conclusion that when the levels of authenticity and experimental control are increased, the basic perceptual skills model may not predict graph reading in a satisfactory way.



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