Investigating Visual Literacy Levels and Predominant Learning Modality Among Undergraduate Design Students in Australia: Preliminary Findings

By Arianne Rourke and Zena O’Connor.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Little is known about the levels of visual literacy or the predominant learning modality of undergraduate design students in Sydney, New South Wales. With a greater understanding of students’ visual literacy and predominant learning modality, educators may have access to useful information in respect to the development of appropriate teaching materials and strategies. According to Bleed (2005) visual literacy provides educators with “an opportunity to connect with learners and enhance the quality of their learning”, he believes that: “visual literacy deserves a significant focus in higher education” (p.10). This research focuses on investigating levels of visual literacy and predominant learning modality using a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods including: a questionnaire and F-sort and Q-sort methodology. The participants for this experimental research study were first year undergraduate students studying design history, a core course in the Bachelor of Design degree. This research conducted, in a realistic teaching environment, used descriptive statistics in order to identify varying levels of visual literacy and the predominant learning modality of participants, and correlation was used to examine patterns of similarity or dissimilarity between levels of visual literacy and predominant learning modality. The findings suggest that visual literacy and learning modality vary among design students, providing educators with the impetus to incorporate a range of different teaching materials and strategies to enable and enrich the learning process.

Keywords: Visual Literacy Levels, Learning Styles, Predominate Learning Modalities, Teaching and Learning in Design History, F and Q Sort Methodology

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.17-28. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.284MB).

Dr. Arianne Rourke

Lecturer, The School of Art History and Art Education, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia

My research interests are in online teaching, visual literacy and the application of Cognitive load theory to improving instructional design in higher education specifically in the area of improving the teaching of undergraduate design history and postgraduate arts administration towards the long term retention of learning.

Dr. Zena O’Connor

Sessional Lecturer, School of Art History and Art Education, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Areas of research include visual literacy & the influence on teaching/learning strategies; Environment-Behaviour Studies (EBS) research plus theories of colour & environmental colour mapping.


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