AECT Handbook of Research

Table of Contents

16. Visual Literacy

16.1 Introduction
16.2 Theoretical Foundations of Visual Literacy
16.3 Establishing a Visual Literacy Research Agenda
16.4 Visual Vocabulary
16.5 Visualization
16.6 Visual Learning/Visual Teaching
16.7 Visual Thinking
16.8 Visual Literacy and Verbal Literacy
16.9 The Visual-Verbal Relationship
16.10 Visible Language:Text as Visuals
16.11 Eletronic Visuals
16.12 Conclusions
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When visual literacy was coined as a term, an early outcome was to suggest the existence or possibility of a visual language(s). From the beginning, comparisons have been made as if by second nature. Once we began to compare the communication aspects of imagery with written language, it was inevitable that the relationship between traditional verbal language and visuals would be explored. Sensory redundancy studies were one of the results of this natural progression of inquiry. Several researchers have explored the effects of visuals used alone and with written or spoken words. Some of the more interesting work along these lines has been done by Appelman (1993), Duchastel (1978), Braden (1983), Fleming (1987), and Dwyer (1988). A general conclusion would be that visuals and verbal materials when used together are in most cases stronger message carriers than when either is used alone.

Braden (1983) coined the terms visual-verbal symbiosis and visual-verbal discontinuity. Dwyer (1988) found a symbiotic relationship between verbal and visual literacy when the two were combined to facilitate student achievement. The concept of visual-verbal symbiosis is rooted in the idea that "visuals" support "verbals," and vice versa. Braden (1993, 1994) postulated that there are static and dynamic visuals and that they are found in 12 support relationships with each other and with static and dynamic verbal elements. Examples of each relationship are given in a 4 X 4 matrix (Braden, 1993, 1994) in what amounts to an expansion of the 2 X 2 audible-visual matrix of Beauchamp and Braden (1989). Research is needed to validate when, in the teaching-learning process, each of these relationships is most appropriate and to inform the field about the effects of altering the degrees of visualization or verbalization in each of the relationships.

Pettersson (1993) has taken a more definitional approach to visual-verbal relationships. In an explication of his model on linguistic combinations, he discussed visual languages in which symbols and pictures are both visual. He terms a combination of visual and verbal languages as verbo-visual, divided into oral-visual and lexivisual. The term verbo-visual has caught on in the European scholarly community and is now coming into use by North American scholars (e.g., Metallinos, 1994: Zettl, 1994).

Updated August 3, 2001
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