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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The field of typography deals with the design and appearance of printed text. Typographical research has delved into such matters as readability of letterforms; with resulting principles for using upper- and lowercase letters together, letter spacing, line length or column width, hyphenation, justified vs. unjustified margins, and so forth (e.g., Davenport & Smith, 1965; Waller, 1979; McLean, 1980). Some of that research applies to visual literacy and its application to instruction and has been made widely available to the field by Hartley (1978, 1985) and Jonassen (1982, 1985). Misanchuk (1992) has shown how those same principles apply to amateur typography: desktop publishing. When visuals and verbal elements are used together, they become symbiotic (Braden, 1982), and in some forms the words or letters themselves become the visual message.

There is a distinction between text-as-visuals and text-in-visuals. Labels on diagrams, illustrations, or pictures are examples of text-in-visuals. Mayer (1989) conducted two experiments wherein effects of labeled illustrations on recall were compared to the effects of unlabeled illustrations. Students who read passages containing the labeled illustrations recalled more explanative information than did those who read passages with unlabeled illustrations. Mayer and Gallini (1990) found the use of visuals to be an effective presentation strategy when the visual material explains the information in the text. Mayer and Anderson (1991) conclude that "studies have shown that simultaneous presentation of illustrations and verbal labels in instructional texts resulted in better problem-solving transfer than did presenting illustrations without verbal labels" (p. 490).

Updated August 3, 2001
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