||As many realized pedagogic studies have documented, it is highly important to activate simultaneously both learner’s basic sense channels, e.g. verbal as well as pictorial, to improve an efficiency of learning (Mayer 1997; Paivio 2014). Therefore, school education should promote the activation, interconnection and complementation of these two sense channels by means of suitable proportion of the text and the visualities used in educational process. In the geography education this might be provide through the activities with maps.
Further, the efficiency of learning is improved by the fact how learners comprehend the materials and media which operate with. The implementation of so-called spiral curriculum seems to be effective (see Rinschede 2005). The principle is that the learner repeatedly meets the same learning topics, nevertheless their didactic transmission changes and acquired knowledge deepens in dependence on the learner’s age. Similarly, the educational media have to be in accordance with knowledges and skills of learners of given age. Consequently, it is necessary to reflect these aspects considering the usability of school cartographic media, e.g. the maps in textbooks and especially the conception of school atlases.
Educators, as well as the pupils are only the users of the educational cartographic media. Hence, the role of cartographers in the dialogue about the development of effective school maps and atlases is crucial. Therefore, the analysis of above mentioned aspects in efficiency of learning is the main goal of our paper. It presents actual results and planned steps in research project dealing with geographical visual information (GeoVisInfo 2016–2018) on the example of economic maps in Czech school atlases. These maps represent the extra-complex maps with multi-layer and fast developing content through time. It is legitimate thus to ask how to transmit the content to learners on various levels of school education. Our research will find answer to following questions in particular: How is significant to think about specialized atlases differentiated for elementary and for secondary schools? Is it possible to overcome the mentioned map complexity only with application of the cartographic generalization or the synthesis by means of synthetic maps? Which map symbols and means of map representation are sufficient for learners on various levels of school education?
Some of forenamed questions was answered in questionnaire survey with utilization of didactic test. The survey was conducted in Czechia among 120 pupils of elementary schools (6th and 7th grade) and among 73 students of higher secondary schools (1st and 2nd grade). The didactic test put to learners some tasks leading to activities with economic maps. According to success in utilization of various kinds of map to solve the task by learner, it investigated the usability of particular visualities.
Chi-quadrat test of independence significantly documented whereas the semantically motivated cartographical symbols are more suitable for elementary school pupils, the alphanumerical cartographical symbols in economic maps (e.g. using the symbology of chemical elements) are better for secondary school students. Nevertheless, the associativeness of colors with particular branches of industry is the same in both testing age groups. Concerning to the complexity of map contents, the economic maps are often incomprehensible for younger pupils. They are not able to join the particular provided information into the integrated image of economy in presented region. Regarding to the need of interconnection of verbal and pictorial sense channels, it is necessary to conclude that the text in textbooks is rarely connected to maps in the atlases. Therefore, new challenges lay in front of authors of school geographic or cartographic media.