Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Geography & Environmental Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

C. Grant Head

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Although maps are often thought to be easily understood, for many people they are not. Research into how best to make the map more useful to the user has taken different forms including applied psychology. While some researchers focus on the map maker, others are concentrating on the map user. In this study, attention is focused on the map user. Specifically, the study tries to look at how “years of geographic instruction” and teaching of “geographic lexicons” can enhance the performance of map use activities. Since maps are more associated with geographers, it is believed that they are in a position to use them better. Frequent association with maps offers them the opportunity to be more familiar with map language (syntax and lexicon). The way map use skills might be taught is explored with reference to learning English as a Second Language. The thesis includes an experiment using as participants second year honours geography students and honours psychology students. The test consisted of five questions reflecting the three levels of map use tasks proposed by Olson (1979). The two groups (psychology and geography) were split into control and intervention groups. The intervention group received instruction on cartographic lexicon items using techniques of Teaching English as a Second Language. In the lower level tasks, neither teaching nor geographical experience affected performance, however this may have been due largely to ceiling effects in the performance of all groups. In higher level, more complex map reading tasks, both geographical experience and teaching showed a statistically significant difference in performance. The concept of teaching Cartography as a Second Language, then, appears operationally valid.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season