Visual Literacy Synthesized: A Content Analysis of Syllabi to Build a Better Visual Literacy Course

This paper implements a content analysis approach to examine syllabi of existing visual literacy
and media literacy courses for themes that meet best
practices as established by the ACRL standards. These
themes have then been combined into a syllabus template representative of a course that will meet the
commonly accepted needs of contemporary students
in higher education. The template includes recommended readings and assignments.

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Visual Literacy Practices in Higher Education

In our media-driven age visuals are increasingly frequent and prominently present in society and their importance and influence across academic disciplines is growing. This makes it essential to enable learners to become visually literate and justifies the need for teaching visual literacy competencies. Yet, there has been little research on visual literacy practices undertaken across academic subjects and institutions in higher education. Moreover, the key challenges and factors of success for achieving visual literacy education haven’t been studied to date. Accordingly, this research aimed to elucidate the issues most relevant to visual literacy and to identify practices undertaken by universities/ faculties and academic libraries. Explorative and descriptive research was conducted using literature analysis and an online questionnaire distributed to an international group of visual literacy practitioners.

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Visual Literacy and Education: Seeing the World Meets Critical Thinking

The abundance and complexity of information now being delivered visually demands that we become visually literate, as well as verbally literate. We need to understand better a process we have taken for granted. In an age increasingly dominated by images – a media culture, it becomes imperative to develop an understanding of how our visual processing system works; how visual cognition is shaped by social, political, and cultural conditioning; and how visual messages are created to elicit specific responses. One of the chief goals of visual literacy education is to encourage critical analysis of visual communication by developing tools that help us understand and manage this complex activity. “Seeing” needs to become an actively conscious, not a passive activity for us. This thesis illustrates the importance of critical visual literacy, provides an historical overview of the visual literacy movement, and suggests a foundational approach to teaching the basics of visual literacy.

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Visual Literacy (VL) in Teacher Preparation: Measurement to Direction

An abridgment of the dissertation Measuring Visual Literacy Ability in Graduate Level Pre-Service Teachers by Teresa A. Farrell, this quantitative descriptive study was designed to establish a baseline of VL ability within this population using a national pool of graduate level students enrolled in teacher preparation programs. Avgerinou’s (2007) VL Index (modified to an online format) was the instrument used to measure VL ability. Results of this study indicate there may be a need for purposeful VL instruction in teacher preparation programs to better equip teachers in K-12 to be visually literate.

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Using Strategies from Graphic Design to Improve Teaching and Learning

This chapter calls attention to the value of graphic design education in K–12 settings by explaining the history and practice of graphic design, identifying the uses and value of graphic design in education, and sharing a case study of how it can be applied in the classroom. The chapter focuses particularly on the value of constructing meaning with pictures and text, both for teacher use in the classroom and in student picture–text integrated projects. It argues that the visual draft process, which uses pictures and words together, can operate just as powerfully as the writing process to facilitate and demonstrate student learning. This graphic design process gives learners control of their content and liberates them to see different relationships between elements and ideas. At the same time, it frames picture and word relationships as malleable and builds flexible, critical thinking in multiple dimensions.

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Strategies and Best Practices for Data Literacy Education: Knowledge Synthesis Report

For the benefit of students, employers, and society, data literacy must be recognized as a necessary civic skill (Swan et al., 2009). This recognition should come from all levels of government, and from post-secondary institutions. There needs to be agreement on what
elements of data literacy are necessary in an undergraduate core curriculum, in order to provide a consistent foundational education for those entering an increasingly data-dependent workforce.

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Questionable Benefit of Visual and Peer Mediated Learning on Overall Learning Outcomes of a First-Year Physiology Course

This paper reports on attempts to incorporate creative visual literacy, by way of student owned technology, and sharing of student-generated multimedia amongst peers to enhance learning in a first year human physiology course. In 2013, students were set the task of producing an animated video, which outlined the pathogenesis of a chosen disease. Students were then encouraged to view each other’s videos. Students in the same course in 2012 engaged in a purely written, non-shared task. The depth of topic understanding did not change between 2012 and 2013. Moderating for cohort variation, students in 2013 showed poorer overall learning outcomes than students in the 2012 cohort. The authors speculate that the peer mediated aspect of the learning activity failed, and that the video task was disruptive to wider learning, due to it being time consuming and unfamiliar to students.

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Kids, Take a Look at This! Visual Literacy Skills in the School Curriculum

Although the paradigm of visual literacy (VL) is rapidly emerging, the construct itself still lacks operational specificity. Based on a semiotic understanding of visual culture as an ongoing process of ‘making meaning’, we present in this study a skill-based classification of VL, differentiating four sets of VL skills: perception; imagination and creation; conceptualization; analysis. A qualitative curriculum analysis based on this framework revealed that curriculum standards for compulsory education in Belgium refer only peripherally to the use of visuals. The attention for VL skills also decreases from secondary education on, especially curriculum standards related to the analysis of images are scarce.

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Exploring Relationships Between Thinking Style and Sex, Age, Academic Major, Occupation, and Levels of Arts Engagement Among Professionals Working in Museums

With evidence that arts engagement and nonlinear thinking style both utilize insight, intuition, and emotion in the decision making process, the literature has driven an investigation of the relationship between levels of arts engagement and thinking style preference. This nonexperimental correlational study (N = 101) explored (a) the prevalence of linear, nonlinear, or balanced linear/nonlinear thinking style of professionals working in museums. (b) Whether thinking style has a relationship with (i) age; (ii) sex; (iii) academic major; (iv) occupation; (v) levels of arts engagement. Two theoretical frameworks underpinned this study: (a) new literacies and (b) cognitive styles.

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Developing Visual Literacy: Historical and Manipulated Photography in the Social Studies Classroom

The importance of visual literacy development is demonstrated using social studies examples from an innovative, collaborative arts program. Discussion of the Visual Thinking Strategies approach, connections to the Common Core State Standards, prompts for higher-order critical thinking, and the application of historical and social science ideas in the classroom are presented.

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Constructing and Reading Visual Information: Visual Literacy for Library and Information Science Education

This article examines visual literacy education and research for library and information science profession to educate the information professionals who will be able to execute and implement the ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries) Visual Literacy Competency Standards successfully. It is a continuing call for inclusion of visual literacy into the curriculum for library and information science education and research in order to educate students to provide professional services in this visual information world and it is a call for a paradigm shift from text-based information services and research realm to a social construction of meaning, reading, searching, finding meaning in a visual information world.

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A Discussion of the Practicality of the Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education

The Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education presents guidelines for educators and provides a scientific framework in which students can acquire visual literacy skills and use visual media in a critical way throughout their professional career. The Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education was composed by the American Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). By means of these standards, the members of the association identified the domains of visual literacy and specified what learning outcomes could enable students to acquire visual literacy skills. The present paper is a discussion of the extent to which the Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education can be met.

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Visual Literacy: Creating Meaning and Context from Images

The article reports on the adoption of standards for competency in visual literacy by the American Association of College and Research Libraries in 2012 to prepare students in higher education and career guidance. Topics discussed include the analysis and communication of messages, coordination of elements for personal expression and training of students in the examination of images. Also mentioned is the access to the National Archives Tool Box for Primary Sources.

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Development of Visual Skills: Digital Photography as a Tool for Research and Teaching in Architectural Education

An architect’s education requires a broad mastery of visual skills. Particularly in design courses, students must demonstrate the skills necessary for the use and production of images to achieve a competitive academic performance. However, the development of these skills in students and the evaluation of their work by faculty members are based mostly on subjective criteria supported by the faculty’s experience. The research used digital photography as an object of research to understand the processes of learning in architectural design. The results help to establish new educational strategies for the development of visual skills to be used during the design process. The collaboration between faculty members and librarians of the School of Architecture at the University of Puerto Rico presented new partnerships that have enriched the planning process of different pedagogical activities for the advancement of knowledge with the development of visual literacy skills in students.

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Development of Visual Literacy Levels Scale in Higher Education

The aim of this study is to develop a scale determining the visual literacy levels of university students. After reviewing the relevant literature a 75 item draft scale was prepared. The scale was applied to 3rd and 4th year students of Education Faculty of Amasya University. Non-functional items have been excluded from the scale as a result of the factor analysis and 41 items have been included. It has been determined that the statements in the scale are gathered in 7 dimensions. These dimensions consisted of: “Identification of the need for visual”, “Finding and accessing visual sources”, “Analyzing and interpreting the visuals”, “Evaluation of visuals and visual sources”, “Effective usage of visuals and visual media”, “Designing and creating visuals” and “Taking ethical and legal issues into consideration”.

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Visual Literacy and the Digital Native: Another Look

“A conceptualization of visual proficiency is offered. A survey is described which asked college students (N=358) to identify five photographs, five symbols, and five paintings that are generally recognized to be “famous”. About 27% of all respondents claimed to recognize all the photographs, 23% recognized all the symbols, and 3% recognized all the paintings. About 14% correctly identified all the photographs, 4% correctly identified all the symbols and only 1% correctly identified all the paintings. The findings suggest that today’s college students may be adrift in a sea of images with little ability to see beyond their own generation.”

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Measuring Visual Literacy Ability in Grade Level Pre-Service Teachers

“This descriptive study is preliminary study to investigate the measurement of VL ability across the United States in order to establish a baseline VL ability measure from which to make vital decisions in the purposeful training of visual literacy within teacher preparatory programs and professional development within school districts. This study describes the mean performance levels of 125 participants collected from a randomly stratified national population within five of the six regional accrediting agencies for public higher education. The measures of central tendency and variance for the individual skills within the Avgerinou (2001) VL Index indicate a need for growth, in particular, in the intellectual skills of concrete concepts, defined concepts, and higher order rules. The implications of these findings emphasize the need for more development in critical engagement with visuals especially as it applies to Common Core State Standards assessments, consumer-driven marketing and power roles, and new modes of digital authorship in a media-saturated society.”

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Information Literacy Training in Higher Education as an Introduction to Lifelong Learning. The Needs of the Curriculum Reform

“The article discusses the need to modify the curricula of ICT in higher education. Contemporary university students seem to function well in the world of new technology, however, they have problems when working with information, including the identification of information needs, the selection of search tools adequate to the task and evaluating information found on the Internet. The curriculum of ICT at universities very often focuses only on narrow technical aspects. There is a necessity to introduce a broad perspective covering the organization, planning and implementation of individual learning in a digital information environment. It is a very important part of the development of the information culture of the young generation and lifelong learning process.”

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Digital Literacy: A Demand for Nonlinear Thinking Styles

“This paper makes a case for a direct relationship between digital literacy and nonlinear thinking styles, articulates a demand for nonlinear thinking styles in education and the workplace, and states implications for a connection between nonlinear thinking styles visual literacy, and intuitive artistic practice.”

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The Use of Concept Mapping/Pattern Matching to Determine the Content Domain for Information Literacy in Baccalaureate Education

“This study assessed the relevance of a national association’s standards for developing information literacy competency in undergraduate students at a mid-sized, regional university in Maryland. The study revealed four conclusions. First, the national standards for information literacy are relevant at the local level. Second, there is a need for academic libraries to reevaluate their existing information literacy outcomes to reflect changes in information dissemination from a textual bias to include multi-media. Third, it is important for academic institutions to include representation of all stakeholders when developing student learning outcomes. Fourth, ambiguity still exists among stakeholders in regard to the effectiveness of teaching information literacy.”

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