Designing a public exhibition is one way for students to meet the goals of the Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education quoted above. Students able to combine visual literacy with strong writing will be better prepared“to function creatively and confidently in the working environments of the twenty-first century” (Weber 2007). Scientists rely on visual images, animations, and 3D models to convey research findings and concepts, yet educational research shows that students“do not necessarily automatically acquire visual literacy during general instruction,” but must be explicitly taught these skills (Schönborn et al. 2006). Exhibition design provides a powerful pedagogical approach, helping students learn to “author” in a manner distinct from traditional writing.
There has been an increasing focus on student-generated multimedia assessment as a way of introducing the benefits of both visual literacy and peer-mediated learning into university courses. One such assessment was offered to first-year health science students but, contrary to expectations, led to poorer performance in their end-of-semester examinations. Following an analysis, the assignment was redesigned to offer students a choice of either a group-based animation task or an individual written task.
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.
“This paper aims to report early findings of the second iteration of an implicit student-generated mobile learning project that promotes visual literacy and peer mediated learning. The first iteration was conducted with first year health science students at the University of Queensland, Australia, in 2013. We found that while the video assessment task may have aided learning for each student around their specific chosen topic, overall course learning outcomes did not improve. This was perhaps due to a failure of the peer mediated learning aspect of the learning activity. Furthermore, the labour intensive nature of the task may have attenuated overall performance in the course. Acting on these findings, we adjusted the visually based, peer-to-peer mobile learning activity accordingly.”