Visual Literacy Resources & Toolkit


Below are some general ideas that are designed to help infuse VL skills into your curriculum. After viewing these examples, along with the tools and additional resources that will follow, we highly encourage you to contribute an idea of your own. Over time, this collection of ideas is designed to grow as the result of your input.

  • Accounting

    Old Assignment: Unit on Corruption, Accounting and Fraudulent Financial Statement Fraud

    Read articles, view narrated lecture, view YouTube videos related to fraud and corruption. Student is assessed with an online multiple choice, short answer quiz.

    Source: Post ACC315 Fraud Prevention

    VL Enhanced Assignment: Film Review —
    Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)

    Teach With Movies offers several resources and ideas to incorporate film into nearly every subject area. For the subject of accounting, offers 8 Great Business Documentaries to Watch on Netflix. In this lesson plan, students will receive TWM's Worksheet for an Informational Documentary and fill it out after viewing the film. This activity will allow them to critically reflect
    on a real-world issue that deals heavily with the field of accounting.

  • Art

    Old Assignment: In-class lecture with Powerpoint projection. Instructor identifies title, artist, year, and important bits of information about works of art from a particular era.  (

    Source: Post ART101 Art History I)

    VL Enhanced Assignment: Visual Thinking Strategies-
    Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) is a specific approach to whole-class viewing and talking about art that primarily uses these questions:

    What's going on in this picture?

    What do you see that makes you say that?

    What more can we find?

    VTS encourages students to think beyond the literal by discussing multiple meanings, metaphors and symbols. (Source

  • Biology

    Old Assignment: Write a 500 word paper on water and why water is essential to life. List three properties of water and how each is useful to many species on earth. Give an example of how each property of water makes it better than other liquids for supporting biological systems.


    VL Enhanced Assignment: Create a diagram of the water cycle. It can be drawn by hand, utilize a montage of photographs, or any combination of media that you wish. Write a brief description of what is going on in the diagram.

  • Business

    Old Assignment: Press Release Assignment

    It is important to establish credibility to help audiences accept your messages. With this in mind, please write a press release regarding your imaginary company's new acquisition or merger. Incorporate the 7 bullet point characteristics listed on (textbook reference). Indicate where you are illustrating each bullet point. (Source: Post BUS311 Managerial Communications)

    VL Enhanced Assignment: Design a single-page advertisement to accompany your press release. This advertisement should convey the message expressed in the press release and visually communicate the changes that were made in your company.

  • Communications

    Old Assignment: Public Relations Campaign
    The BP Oil Spill was a very serious situation that happened in the United States. In response to the spill, BP had to create and launch a PR campaign to help rebuild its image. Research BP's public relations campaign and answer the following:

    • Do you think their efforts were successful or unsuccessful? Why/why not?
    • What did they do well?
    • What strategy was could they have changed?
    • What would you have done, based on what you know now?

    Discuss the similarities and differences in your answers.  Reference and cite any resources used to support your answers. Source COM375 Public Relations


    VL Enhanced Assignment: Media Analysis Assignment
    This assignment combines a sampling of a slice of prime time television commercial and print media advertisement from the BP oil spill. Answer the following for the commercial: Who is the probable intended audience(s) for the commercial you are analyzing? What factors contribute to your awareness of audience? Consider not only gender but also age, race/ethnicity, geographic location, etc. Next, answer the following for the print ad: Who is the probable intended audience(s) for the magazine ad you are analyzing? Explain your answer. What is the print ad trying to sell? How does it make its appeal to the potential consumer? Does it appear to have any particular relationship to the articles accompanying it in the magazine?

    Credit: Kimberlee Staking, Department of Women’s Studies, University of Maryland

  • English

    Old Assignment: Character analysis essay—Both “A Jury of Her Peers” and “The Mayor Meets an American Princess” deal with assumptions associated with traditional gender roles. Both stories look at people’s perceptions of those roles. In this essay, you will compare and contrast how men and women are viewed in American society. Both stories were written in and about different time periods. You should also create a thesis and corresponding essay that explains the way each story deals with traditional gender roles and how those roles are a result of the time period a person is living in. (Source: Post ENG130 Literature & Composition)

    VL Enhanced Assignment: In this classroom activity, students are assigned with the task of creating visual representation and rationale for visual. First, small groups of students choose from a list of selected lines from “A Jury of Her Peers” and “The Mayor Meets an American Princess” The groups then discuss ideas for representing the selection through a visual image. Each group is given a different form of visual representation, such as photo, collage, poster, video, or mixed media. This activity concludes with group presentations, in which each group identifies the focal message, perspectives they wanted to convey visually, their strategy, and how the visual modes provided or limited their intended message. This activity requires students to reflect on how the structure, mode, and medium of the genre inform how they were able to communicate meaning (Hamilton et al., 2012).

  • History

    Old Assignment: History of Mongols

    Read chapter in course textbook describing the rise and fall of the Mongol civilization. Students are assessed with a multiple choice and short-answer quiz.

    VL Enhanced Assignment: Visual Juxtaposition

    Use groups of three Powerpoint slides to get students
    to think about biases and interpretations in historical sources—whether visual or textual. The visual material may reveal the constructed nature of historical "texts" better than textual sources. In this case, Mongols were depicted very differently through the eyes (and paint brushes) of Chinese, Persian, and European artists.

    (credit: Andrea Goldman, Department of History, University of Maryland)

  • Marketing

    Old Assignment: Target Markets
    Research - What are the different target markets for a gym? Decide on the market you think Jim's Gym should target and describe it in this brief.  Base your target market on YOUR location. What is the best target?

    Answer these questions - Given YOUR location, 1. What are the demographics of your area? 2. What is your vision of the best target market to pursue for Jim's Gym? (Source: Post MKT200 Principles of Marketing)

    VL Enhanced Assignment: The class will be divided into groups. Each group will design a different advertisement for Jim’s Gym. Each advertisement must be directed to a different target market. Examples may include stay-at-home parents, businesspeople, blue-collar workers, or retirees. As a class, present the advertisements, and discuss how visual elements impact the target market.

  • Sports Management

    Old Assignment: Journal Article Review

    Read and write a review of a journal article that relates to a sociology of sport topic. The review will be a minimum of 2 pages in length. Your review must include, but may not be limited to, the following:

    • An overview of the article
    • The prior research completed about the topic
    • The results of the article
    • Your opinion about the article and the topic

    Source: Post SMG151 Sport in Society

    VL Enhanced Assignment: Visuals in the News—
    In-class shared exercise and discussion

    Materials Needed: sports newspaper article, sports magazine, or a television sports news story.

    For printed media, notice all of the visual elements contained in the photographs and graphics. Consider the ways in which the visual imagery reinforce the textual message or in certain ways contradict the message. Consider what possible messages are communicated visually apart from the captions or other written or spoken material.

    With television news, consider the amount of visual imaging in a single news story from the use of photographs, captions, headlines, video footage, news logos, and background settings for each frame. After the individual images are examined, consider the possible implications of them and the ways in which all of the visual images interact throughout the entire broadcast.

    (credit: Shawn Parry-Giles, Department of Communication, University of Maryland)