Educational Psychology Review

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 211–247 | Cite as

Learning from maps and diagrams

  • William Winn


This review of learning from maps and diagrams consists of two sections. The first section presents a theoretical framework for learning from maps and diagrams. The case is made that the symbol systems of maps and diagrams are sufficiently similar for them to be considered together. The theoretical framework is built around what is known of pre-attentive and top-down psychological processes. It accounts for the way people discriminate between symbols used in maps and diagrams and how they group them into clusters. The second section comprises a review of psychological and instructional research. This research provides support for a number of hypotheses arising from the theoretical framework. Many of these are based on the notion that maps and diagrams communicate a considerable amount of information by the way in which components are placed relative to each other and to the frame surrounding them. Evidence that configuration and discrimination are fundamental to learning from maps and diagrams is summarized in 10 concluding points.

Key words

maps diagrams configuration discrimination 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Winn
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WashingtonSeattle

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