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The Effect of Verbal Contextual Information in Processing Visual Art

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship among structural, semantic, and verbal memories of visual art. It was hypothesized that verbal contextual information, in the form of descriptive and interpretive titles, promotes varied levels of structural and semantic processing as a function of differences in abstraction, media, and prior knowledge. Findings were best explained by the sensory-semantic model of processing in predicting that the availability of contextual information at input facilitates the semantic analysis of structural information. Results indicated meanings were more accessible for processing when responding to photographs than to drawings, yet the accuracy of their interpretation was determined by the abstraction level that characterized each work of art and by the type of contextual information given during presentation. The findings further indicated that even students with prior knowledge of photography benefited from the availability of verbal contexts.

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... Educators should provide learning opportunities that assist the learner to assimilate their prior knowledge to any new knowledge in order to promote schema acquisition that can assist with comprehension. Studies in art education have found that comprehension of art is reliant on both the nature of the visual stimulus and the viewer's cognitive structures or existing knowledge (Koroscik, 1982;Koroscik, Desmond & Brandon, 1985). According to the constructive theorist DiSibio (1982), comprehension is a cognitive process that requires the activation of an individual's prior knowledge. ...
... According to the constructive theorist DiSibio (1982), comprehension is a cognitive process that requires the activation of an individual's prior knowledge. Koroscik, Desmond and Brandon (1985), have suggested that comprehending art involves a complex interplay between encoding its formal qualities and its semantic characteristics. Raney (1999) suggests that critical understanding, that most experts possess, requires guided study and discussion and 'informed judgement'. ...
... Adequate content knowledge is central to teaching and understanding works of art which convey the social and political climate, historical tradition, religiousphilosophical beliefs, and artistic conventions of their makers. Indeed, works of visual art have been described as cognitively complex by both experts and scholars in the field (Goodman, 1984;Koroscik, 1985). If students are to appreciate and understand this complexity, teachers should function much like experts in bringing broad content knowledge and deep understanding to their teaching. ...
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Thesis (Ph. D)--Ohio State University, 1983. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 201-208). Photocopy.
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