Visual Literacy Resources & Toolkit

Learning & Developing VL

Focusing on reading, writing, and verbal instruction, K–12 schools traditionally pay very little attention to the form and quality of the visual message (Hsin-Te & Lohr, 2010). This creates a knowledge gap, leaving high school graduates unprepared for the visual literacy competencies required by the 21st century job market. Visual literacy integration in higher education may help to fill this knowledge gap. These skills are both teachable and learnable, but must be practiced regularly in order to become refined.

Visual literacy involves the cognitive functions of critical viewing and thinking, visualizing, inferring, and constructing meaning; but it also involves communicating as well as evoking feeling and attitude. The development of visual literacy abilities is dependent upon learner interaction with objects and images, as well as body language. Visual literacy skills are not isolated from other sensory skills, as there is exchangeability of information received and transmitted by all sensory channels (Avgerinou & Pettersson, 2011). Consequently, visual literacy is believed to improve the development of verbal literacy. Avgerinou & Pettersson (2011) proposed that visual literacy skills are learnable, teachable, and capable of development and improvement (p. 9). The main focus of visual literacy is intentional communication often occurring in an instructional context.