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A Review of the Concept of Visual Literacy

Authors:
  • American Community Schools, Athens, Greece

Abstract

Many people from very diverse disciplines have attempted to define the concept of Visual Literacy (VL), but with little general consensus so far. This is probably due to the fact that those representing the different disciplines and paradigms are each wanting to interpret Visual Literacy in a way that reflects and flatters their contribution or way of thinking. As a consequence, a theoretical concept with seemingly little practical value has been created, but cannot be used productively until an agreed definition is established. It is self evident that if a concept does not have a broadly accepted definition, if the theory behind it is confusing, and if its viability on practical terms is a matter of continuing controversy, then the only reasonable way to cope with it is to abandon it. Nevertheless, with the exception of very few and of minor importance cases, no serious attempt has ever been made towards discarding VL altogether.
... In their attempt to understand this unprecedented phenomenon, children might have been facilitated by depictions of SARS-CoV-2, its transmission, and pertinent mitigation measures which have dominated public discourse during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nowadays, visual images are increasingly used to convey information and support meaning-making (Avgerinou and Ericson, 1997), especially in the realm of science, where communication and meaning-making are inherently multimodal (Lemke, 1998;Givry and Pantidos, 2012). Furthermore, images are particularly valuable when invisible entities are at play (Lemke, 1998;Jewitt, 2008;Coleman et al., 2011;Jarman et al., 2012;Manches and Ainsworth, 2022), all the more so in crisis circumstances (Höijer, 2010;Alcibar, 2018;Stark and Stones, 2019). ...
... When asked to describe verbally appropriate preventive measures, children report more practices, than those they include in their drawings. Although verbal responses seem to be richer than drawings, the two data collection techniques seem to provide similar information and act complementarily (Avgerinou and Ericson, 1997;Jewitt et al., 2001;Unsworth, 2004;Coleman et al., 2011;Matloob Haghanikar and Leigh, 2022). ...
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Despite the growing body of research on the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on children’s wellbeing, few studies so far have explored children’s points of view, while the majority were based on data collected during the first year of the pandemic. The present study attempted to capture children’s views 1 year after the beginning of the pandemic, and to this end, data were collected during Spring 2021 in Greece. Specifically, by combining verbal and visual data, the study attempted to explore children’s views of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 preventive practices. Participants involved 320 children, ranging in age from 4 to 12 years, who were asked to verbally describe and draw (a) Coronavirus and (b) the preventive measures adopted to mitigate the pandemic. Data analysis indicated that overall, children’s views involve elements of scientifically appropriate information since from an early age they are able to describe and depict SARS-CoV-2 in ways that reflect the abundance of available verbal and visual information in the public sphere. Moreover, children recommended suitable COVID-19 preventive practices since their verbal and drawing responses included references to both the Hygienic and Social preventive practices that prevailed during the time of data collection. Age-related differences in children’s views, as well as differences between the two data collection techniques, were also found. Results also showed that children who described SARS-CoV-2 as a virus or a germ tended to report more hygienic practices than those who failed to describe the term appropriately. The findings shed light on the way children form their views of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 and raise research educational implications.
... En los últimos tiempos, ha habido una ola de cambios en la educación. El movimiento de alfabetización visual según Avgerinou y Ericson (1997), ha ido ganando un impulso considerable, abarcando el aprendizaje múltiples aspectos de comunicación visual. Las tendencias convergen en la incorporación de recursos visuales en la educación e investigación en todos los niveles educativos, enfatizando así enfoques visuales que apoyan el aprendizaje. ...
... En este camino, los ordenadores y la tecnología, tienen el potencial de apoyar la cognición, para ser utilizadas para extender la inteligencia, siendo instrumentos del individuo a la hora de mejorar aspectos visuales y lingüísticos de aprendizaje (Avgerinou y Ericson, 1997). Rieber (1995), argumenta que los materiales de instrucción deberían permitir una orientación visual orientada a la resolución de problemas y generar múltiples representaciones, en lugar de limitar el aprendiz para abstraer estrategias visuales. ...
... The educational significance of VL has been highlighted by educators. The most important benefits of developing VL have been listed as follows: increase in all kinds of verbal skills, students' motivation and interest in all subjects, students' self-expression and their ability to better comprehend the today's world (Avgerinou & Ericson, 1997). ...
... The problem of VL has been attracting a lot of interest in educators, since this term was first coined by John Debes in 1968. The systemic review of the VL concept has been undertaken by Avgerinou and Ericson (1997). The authors have attempted to establish a more accepted definition of VL and related notions. ...
... This is the reason why it is considered that students' engagement would be successful through their understanding of visual images in the light of their personal experiences (Dimitriadou & Gakoudi, 2014). The application of these practices in the teaching procedure can motivate children in the direction of understanding and interpreting the material taught in a more comprehensive way (Avgerinou & Ericson, 1997). ...
Conference Paper
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This paper reports on the 1st case study performed in the 1st cycle of a design research aiming at designing a learning environment based on philosophical theories of concept formation (i.e. categorization). Here, we will present the 1st version of our learning environment which supports primary school students in constructing the biological concepts of fish, amphibian, reptile, bird, mammal, and enhancing their categorization skills. Philosophers have provided theories that suggest different mechanisms of categorization. Family resemblance-inspired theories suggest that we classify, e.g., individual birds under the concept bird by intuitively relying on examples of birds and/or on lists of their shared features. Moreover, classical theory suggests that we classify, e.g., individual birds under the concept bird by articulating bird-definitions. Considering the above theories, we developed a three-part, collaborative learning environment within the theoretical framework of constructivism. Our learning environment consists of 7 teaching-learning activities that aim at helping students to actively engage with the vertebrate animals classification while using different types of reasoning. More specifically, students are expected to collaborate in small groups in order to classify vertebrate animals into their classes, by (a) observing different examples of each vertebrate class, (b) making lists of the features the members of each class share (‘shared features list’), (c) deducing some ‘key features’ of each class from the corresponding ‘shared features list’, and (d) using these ‘key features’ to articulate definition-like reasoning strands about vertebrates. The learning environment will be thoroughly discussed in the paper, along with some preliminary results of its implementation. Analyzing the pre/post responses of the 19 conveniently selected fifth-graders who took part in this case study, showed an improvement in their reasoning about the target biological concepts.
... The multimodal nature of texts (e.g., learning materials) has led to redefining the traditional concept of literacy, which focused mainly on verbal language, to multiliteracies, emphasising the ability to understand and use the various semiotic modes that interrelate in meaning production (Cope & Kalantzis, 2000;Unsworth, 2001;New London Group, 2000). In particular, the increasing use of the visual mode in multimodal texts has indicated the need for students to develop visual literacy (Anderson, Robinson, & Brynteson, 2015;Brumberger & Northcut, 2016), which entails the abilities of understanding, interpreting, using, creating and thinking through images (Avgerinou & Ericson, 1997;Avgerinou & Pettersson, 2011;Trumbo, 1999). ...
Article
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COVID-19 e-books have emerged as means for communicating information about coronavirus and the resulting disease to children during the pandemic. This material is multimodal, with images forming the most prevalent and crucial semiotic mode. Except for representational and compositional meaning, an image realises interpersonal meanings. The degree to which the reader is activated (address) and prompted to become engaged with what is represented (involvement) constitute interpersonal meaning dimensions that reflect crucial pedagogical perceptions about children’s learning. This study explored how address and involvement are visually realized in young children’s e-books about COVID-19. The sample consisted of 100 randomly selected images of living or anthropomorphic entities included in 18 COVID-19 e-books for young children. The framework of analysis was based on the Grammar of Visual Design. Results indicate that the analysed images mostly assign children both roles of information receivers and active learners, while encouraging their engagement with what is represented. These interpersonal meanings largely align with the socio-cognitive perspective on young children’s learning. The study could support teachers in the selection, design, and use of multimodal learning materials to promote children’s visual literacy, especially in emergency conditions as those imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
... Art management is a topic that has been underrepresented and sometimes disregarded; hence it is undervalued when employed to graphic design. Despite the fact that the link between art management and graphic design is still considered problematic and troublesome due to a lack of an approved definition and specific emphasis, it is still actively researched as many professions attempt to comprehend and integrate it (Avgerinou and Ericson, 1997;Boughton, 1986). Graphic design may be characterized as a knowledge of images that "distinguishes between semantic and syntactic conventions and focuses on those characteristics that most sharply differentiate visual language from other modes of communication" (Messaris, 1998, p.70). ...
Article
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Graphic designers use syntax and visuals to meet the unique needs of their clients, while focusing on the logic of displaying components in dynamic designs to maximize the customer satisfaction. On the other hand, art management is the application of business and management principles and techniques to the world of art. Art management, often known as art administration, is the public or private oversight of the day-today business activities of art organizations. The purpose of this article was to focus on a) how art management approaches may improve graphic design, b) how important the concept of art management is to graphic designers, c) identify the need for design management, and d) develop the skills required for graphic design supervisors to be efficient and productive. For this purpose, a case study of graphic designer Paul was evaluated originality, as well as some level of creative skill and grasp of graphic design and typefaces, were found to be essential in the evaluation of the case study in the findings. Furthermore, the ability to interact with others is essential, as good language skills are essential while interacting with customers and customers. Also, the ability to remain reasonably calm in a crisis scenario is important because graphic designers may be working under tight deadlines and may be working around the clock at times.
... At this stage, we will discuss the "principles of visual literacy" used by the designer. The term "visual literacy" was first introduced in 1969 by John Debes (26). Wileman (1993) defines visual literacy as the ability to read, interpret, and understand information presented in image or graphical forms (27). ...
Article
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Although many attempts have been made in presenting systematic models for design processes, most projects have been implemented by non-systematic methods, which seems that too much emphasis on the description of the final project (product) and the lack of attention to the design process are to be blamed for this. In this paper, a specific pattern of design scenario formation in the framework of a research-oriented design process will be discussed. Therefore, the aim of this study is to develop a model that can be used in research-based design processes. In the present study, conceptual structures are extracted in the theoretical frameworks for each stage of the design scenario formation process by reviewing the literature of the subject, and then these conceptual structures are placed next to each other and presented in the form of a systematic process called research-oriented design process. The process presented in this paper is the result of the experience gained during 5 years of teaching an architectural design (2), which includes three milestones: 1) Design protocol 2) Subconcepts and 3) Design scenario. This scenario is precisely coordinated and aligned with the design protocol; it also reveals behaviors that require a design response, explains clearly the scenario of the details of the activities and the elements that make up the spaces. This makes the subject more transparent in the minds of designers and details of the design for each stage should be determined.
Book
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The International Visual Literacy Association is an eclectic organization of professionals working toward a fuller understanding of how we derive meaning from what we see and how we interact with our visual environment. IVLA members represent a wide range of disciplines including the arts, sciences, education, museum, library, communication, business, videography, photography, instructional technology, health, and computer applications. Each year, members come together at a conference held in conjunction with a university, museum or organization to present their ongoing work and to share perspectives in a multidisciplinary forum. Characterized by many different voices, and cross-fertilization of ideas, interests and values, discussion is a lively mix of scholarship, creativity, and applications. Since the founding of the organization in 1968, this dynamic interaction between practitioners and theorists has been IVLA’s greatest strength. The Book of Selected Readings (BSR) is a peer reviewed collection of papers, selected from the presentations at the annual IVLA Conference. It is meant to reflect the spirit of the ongoing conversation among its diverse members and to promote new perspectives in its readers. Included in the BSR are creative ideas in the making, works in progress that invite further thought and the results of long-term scholarly research. What makes the BSR special, like the members of IVLA who have contributed to it, is that it represents this broad range of interests and reflects some of the most diverse thinking in the field of visual communication. In addition, the BSR truly presents the international perspectives. For the 2022 BSR, 12 published articles came from 7 difference countries, such as Netherland, Syria, Russia, Brazil, Egypt, and Canada as well as USA.
Cover Page
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IAFOR Journal of Education: Volume 5 – Special Issue – Summer 2017 Editor: Bernard Montoneri, National Chengchi University, Taiwan Published: August 16, 2017 ISSN: 2187-0594 https://doi.org/10.22492/ije.5.si https://iafor.org/journal/iafor-journal-of-education/volume-5-special-issue/
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