Instructional Science

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 63–77 | Cite as

Pictures and adult learning

  • K. L. Alesandrini


Instructional pictures may be classified on the basis of how they convey meaning including classification as representational, analogical, or arbitrary (Gropper, 1963; Knowlton, 1966). Some previous reviews of picture effects have dealt with only the first category of pictures-that is, pictures that are isomorphic with the objects or concepts that they represent (Alesandrini, 1982; Levin and Lesgold, 1978). Other reviews have also considered arbitrary or non-representational pictures such as flowcharts and graphs (Levie and Lentz, 1982; Macdonald-Ross, 1977a). This article discusses research on all three types of pictures and considers how each type may play a crucial, yet different, role in the learning process. The focus is on picture effects in adult meaningful learning such as concept learning, learning from prose materials, and learning from expository text.


Learning Process Previous Review Concept Learning Adult Learning Meaningful Learning 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alesandrini, K. L. (1981). “Pictorial-verbal and analytic-holistic learning strategies in science learning,” Journal of Educational Psychology 73: 358–368.Google Scholar
  2. Alesandrini, K. L. (1982). “Imagery-eliciting strategies and meaningful learning,” Journal of Mental Imagery 6: 125–140.Google Scholar
  3. Alesandrini, K. L. and Rigney, J. W. (1981). “Pictorial practice and review strategies in science learning,” Journal of Research in Science Teaching 5: 465–474.Google Scholar
  4. Anderson, J. R. and Bower, G. H. (1973). Human Associative Memory. Washington, D. C.: Winston.Google Scholar
  5. Armbruster, B. B. and Anderson, T. H. (1980). The effect of mapping on the free recall of expository text (Tech. Rep. No. 1960). Urbana: University of Illinois, Center for the Study of Reading.Google Scholar
  6. Barron, R. F. (1969). “The use of vocabulary as an advance organizer,” in: H. L. Herber and P. L. Sanders (Eds.), Research in Reading in the Content Areas: First Year Report. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University.Google Scholar
  7. Battista, M. (1981). “The interaction between two instructional treatments of algebraic structures and spatial-visualization ability,” Journal of Educational Research 74: 337–341.Google Scholar
  8. Borg, W. R. and Schuller, C. F. (1979). “Detail and background in audiovisual lessons and their effect on learners,” Educational Communication and Technology Journal 27: 31–38.Google Scholar
  9. Cantu, L. and Herron, J. (1978). “Concrete and formal Piagetian stages and science concept attainment,” Journal of Research in Science Teaching 15: 135–143.Google Scholar
  10. Chute, A. G. (1979). “Analysis of the instructional functions of color and monochrome cuing in media presentations,” Educational Communication and Technology Journal 27: 251–263.Google Scholar
  11. Collins, A., Gentner, D. and Rubin, A. (1981). Teaching Study Strategies (Report No. 4794). Boston: Bolt, Branek, and Newman.Google Scholar
  12. Coscarelli, W. C. and Schwen, T. M. (1979). “Effects of three algorithmic representations on critical thinking, laboratory efficiency, and final grade,” Educational Communication and Technology Journal 27: 58–64.Google Scholar
  13. Dansereau, D. (1978). “The learning-strategy training program,” in: H. F. O'NeilJr. (Ed.), Learning Strategies. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  14. Dansereau, D. F., Collins, K. W., McDonald, B. A., Holley, C. D., Garland, J., Diekhoff, G. and Evans, S. H. (1979). “Development and evaluation of a learning strategy training program,” Journal of Educational Psychology 71: 64–73.Google Scholar
  15. Davidson, R. E. (1979). “The role of metaphor and analogy in learning,” in: J. R. Levin and V. L. Allen (Eds.), Cognitive Learning in Children: Theories and Strategies. New York: Academic Press, pp. 135–162.Google Scholar
  16. Dean, R. S. and Kulhavy, R. W. (1981). “Influence of spatial organization in prose learning,” Educational Psychology 73: 57–64.Google Scholar
  17. DuRapau, V. J. and Carry, L. R. (1980). “Interaction of general reasoning ability and processing strategies in geometry instruction.” Paper presented at the meeting of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Seattle, WA, April.Google Scholar
  18. Dwyer, F. M. (1978). Strategies for Improving Visual Learning. State College, Pa: Learning Services.Google Scholar
  19. Dwyer, F. M. (1982–83). “The program of systematic evaluation-A brief review,” International Journal of Instructional Media 10: 23–38.Google Scholar
  20. Feliciano, G. D., Powers, R. D. and Kearl, B. E. (1963). “The presentation of statistical information,” AV Communication Review 11: 32–39.Google Scholar
  21. Gabel, D. and Sherwood, R. (1980). “The effect of student manipulation of molecular models on chemistry achievement according to Piagetian level,” Journal of Research in Science Teaching 17: 75–81.Google Scholar
  22. Geva, E. (1983). “Facilitating reading comprehension through flowcharting,” Reading Research Quarterly 18: 384–405.Google Scholar
  23. Gick, M. L. and Holyoak, K. J. (1983). “Schema induction and analogical transfer,” Cognitive Psychology, 15: 1–38.Google Scholar
  24. Glynn, S. M. and Di Vesta, R. J. (1977). “Outline and hierarchical organization as aids for study and retrieval,” Journal of Educational Psychology 69: 89–95.Google Scholar
  25. Goodstein, M. and Howe, A. (1978). “The use of concrete methods in secondary chemistry instruction,” Journal of Research in Science Teaching 15: 261–366.Google Scholar
  26. Gorman, D. A. (1973). “Effects of varying pictorial detail and presentation strategy on concept formation,” AV Communication Review 21: 337–350.Google Scholar
  27. Gropper, G. L. (1963). “Why is a picture worth a thousand words?” AV Communication Review 11: 75–79.Google Scholar
  28. Holley, C. D., Dansereu, D. F., McDonald, B. A., Garland, J. C. and Collins, K. W. (1979). “Evaluation of a hierarchical mapping technique as an aid to prose processing,” Contemporary Educational Psychology 4: 227–237.Google Scholar
  29. Holliday, W. G. (1975). “The effects of verbal and adjunct pictorial-verbal information in science instruction,” Journal of Research in Science Teaching 12: 77–83.Google Scholar
  30. Holliday, W. G. (1976). “Teaching verbal chains using flow diagrams and texts,” AV Communication Review 24: 63–78.Google Scholar
  31. Holliday, W. G., Brunner, L. L. and Donais, E. L. (1977). “Differential cognitive and affective responses to flow diagrams in science.” Journal of Research in Science Teaching 14: 129–138.Google Scholar
  32. Howe, A. C. and Durr, B. (1982). “Using concrete materials and peer interaction to enhance learning in chemistry,” Journal of Research in Science Teaching 19: 225–232.Google Scholar
  33. Jones, S. (1983). “Stereotype in pictograms of abstract concepts,” Ergonomics 26: 605–611.Google Scholar
  34. Kammann, R. (1975). “The comprehensibility of printed instructions and the flowchart alternative,” Human Factors 17: 183–191.Google Scholar
  35. Knowlton, J. (1966). “On the definition of picture.” AV Communication Review 14: 147–183.Google Scholar
  36. Lesgold, A. M., Curtis, M. E., DeGood, H., Golinkoff, R. M., McCormick, C. and Shimron, J. (1974). The Role of Mental Imagery in Test Comprehension: Preliminary Studies. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, Learning Research and Development Center.Google Scholar
  37. Levie, W. H. and Lentz, R. (1982). “Effects of text illustrations: A review of research,” Educational Communication and Technology Journal 30: 195–232.Google Scholar
  38. Levin, J. R. and Lesgold, A. M. (1978). “On pictures in prose,” Educational Communication and Technology Journal 26: 233–243.Google Scholar
  39. Lewis, B. N., Horabin, I. S. and Gane, C. P. (1973). Case Studies in the Use of Algorithms. New York: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  40. Macdonald-Ross, M. (1977a). “Graphics in text,” in: L. S. Shulman (Ed.), Review of Research in Education (No 5 pp. 49–85). Itasca, IL: Peacock.Google Scholar
  41. Macdonald-Ross, M. (1977b). “How numbers are shown: A review of research on the presentation of quantitative data in texts,” AV Communication Review 25: 359–404.Google Scholar
  42. Mayer, R. E. (1975). “Different problem solving strategies established in learning computer programming with and without meaningful models,” Journal of Educational Psychology 67: 725–734.Google Scholar
  43. Mayer, R. E. (1980). “Elaboration techniques that increase the meaningfulness of technical text: An experimental test of the learning strategy hypothesis,” Journal of Educational Psychology 72: 770–784.Google Scholar
  44. Merrill, M. D. and Tennyson, R. D. (1977). Teaching Concepts: An Instructional Design Guide. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology.Google Scholar
  45. Moore, D. W. and Readence, J. E. (1983, April). “A quantitative and qualitative review of graphic organizer research.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Montreal, Canada, April.Google Scholar
  46. Myatt, B. and Carter, J. M. (1979). “Picture preferences of children and young adults,” Educational Communication and Technology Journal 27: 45–53.Google Scholar
  47. Norman, D. A. and Rumelhart, D. E. (1975). Explorations in Cognition. San Francisco: Freeman.Google Scholar
  48. Paivio, A., Yuille, J. C. and Madigan, S. A. (1968). “Concreteness, imagery, and meaningfulness values for 925 nouns,” Journal of Experimental Psychology Monograph 76: (1, pt. 2), 1–25.Google Scholar
  49. Petrich, J. A. (1981). “A microcomputer-assisted presentation of atomic orbitals,” Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching 1: 17–20.Google Scholar
  50. Rasco, R. V., Tennyson, R. D. and Boutwell, R. C. (1975). “Imagery instructions and drawings in learning prose,” Journal of Educational Psychology 67: 188–192.Google Scholar
  51. Reid, D. J. and Miller, G. J. A. (1980). Pupils' perception of biological pictures and its implications for readability studies of biology textbooks. Journal of Biological Education pp. 59–69.Google Scholar
  52. Rigney, J. W. and Lutz, K. A. (1976). “Effect of graphic analogies of concepts in chemistry on learning and attitude,” Journal of Educational Psychology 68: 305–311.Google Scholar
  53. Royer, J. M. and Cable, G. W. (1975). “Facilitated learning in connected discourse,” Journal of Educational Psychology 67: 116–123.Google Scholar
  54. Royer, J. M. and Cable, G. W. (1976). “Illustrations, analogies, and facilitative transfer in prose learning,” Journal of Educational Psychology 68: 205–209.Google Scholar
  55. Snouffer, N. K. and Thistlethwaite, L. L. (1983). “The effects of the structured overview and vocabulary pre-teaching upon comprehension levels of college freshmen reading physical science and history materials,” Journal of the Association for the Study of Perception Fall: 11–16.Google Scholar
  56. Snowman, J. and Cunningham, D. J. (1975). “A comparison of pictorial and written adjunct aids in learning from text,” Journal of Educational Psychology 67: 307–311.Google Scholar
  57. Talley, L. H. (1973). “The use of three-dimensional visualization as a moderator in higher cognitive learning concepts in college level chemistry,” Journal of Research in Science Teaching 10: 263–269.Google Scholar
  58. Tennyson, R. D. and Park, O. C. (1980). “The teaching of concepts: A review of instructional design research literature,” Review of Educational Research 50: 55–70.Google Scholar
  59. Tirre, W. C., Manelis, L. and Leicht, K. L. (1979). “The effects of imaginal and verbal strategies on prose comprehension by adults,” Journal of Reading Behavior 11: 99–106.Google Scholar
  60. Travers, R. M. and Alvarado, V. (1970). “The design of pictures for teaching children in elementary school,” AV Communication Review 18: 47–64.Google Scholar
  61. Tufte, E. R. (1983). The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press.Google Scholar
  62. Vernon, M. D. (1950). “The visual presentation of factual data,” British Journal of Educational Psychology 20: 174–185.Google Scholar
  63. Whitehead, A. N. (1929). Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  64. Wilcox, W. C., Merrill, M. D. and Black, H. B. (1981). “Effect of teaching a conceptual hierarchy on concept classification performance,” Journal of Instructional Development 5: 8–13.Google Scholar
  65. Wileman, R. E. (1980). Exercises in Visual Thinking. New York: Hastings House.Google Scholar
  66. Wilson, B. G. and Merrill, M. D. (1980). “Effects of structural instruction and sequence in learning a conceptual hierarchy.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Boston, MA, April.Google Scholar
  67. Winn, W. (1981). “Effect of attribute highlighting and diagrammatic organization on identification and classification,” Journal of Research in Science Teaching 18: 23–31.Google Scholar
  68. Winn, W. (1982). “The role of diagrammatic representation in learning sequences, identification and classification as a function of verbal and spatial ability,” Journal of Research in Science Teaching 19: 78–89.Google Scholar
  69. Wittrock, M. C. (1974). “Learning as a generative process,” Educational Psychologist 11: 87–95.Google Scholar
  70. Wittrock, M. C. (1977). “Learning as a generative process,” in: M. C. Wittrock (Ed.), Learning and Instruction. Berkeley: McCutcheon, pp. 621–631.Google Scholar
  71. Wright, P. (1977). “Presenting technical information: A survey of research findings,” Instructional Science 6: 93–134.Google Scholar
  72. Wright, P. and Reid, F. (1973). “Written information: Some alternatives to prose for expressing the outcomes of complex contingencies,” Journal of Applied Psychology 57: 160–166.Google Scholar
  73. Yuille, J. C. and Marschark, M. (1983). “Imagery effects on memory: Theoretical interpretations,” in: A. A. Sheikh (Ed.), Imagery: Current Theory, Research, and Application New York: Wiley, pp. 131–155.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Elsevier Science Publishers B.V 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. L. Alesandrini
    • 1
  1. 1.College of EducationUniversity of IowaIowa CityU.S.A.

Personalised recommendations