Educational Psychology Review

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 101–120 | Cite as

Commentary: Towards an Integrated View of Learning from Text and Visual Displays

  • Wolfgang Schnotz


Visuo-spatial text adjuncts such as static or animated pictures, geographic maps, thematic maps, graphs, and knowledge maps that have been analyzed in the articles contained in this special issue provide complex pictorial information that complements the verbal information of texts. These spatial text adjuncts are considered as depictive representations that can support communication, thinking, and learning. An essential precondition of this supportive function is that the visuo-spatial displays interact appropriately with human visual perception and the individual's cognitive system, which is characterized by prior knowledge, cognitive abilities, and learning skills. Accordingly, effective learning with visuo-spatial text adjuncts can be fostered by instructional design and by adequate processing strategies, both dependent on sufficient understanding of how the human cognitive system interacts with these displays. Perspectives for further research in this area are provided.

visual displays spatial displays adjunct displays spatial cognition representations 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ainsworth, S. (1999). The functions of multiple representations. Comput. Educ. 33: 131–152.Google Scholar
  2. Baddeley, A. (1992). Working memory, Science 255: 556–559.Google Scholar
  3. Chafe, W. L. (1994). Discourse, Consciousness, and Time, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  4. Chandler, P., and Sweller, J. (1991). Cognitive load theory and the format of instruction. Cogn. Instr. 8: 293–332.Google Scholar
  5. Clark, J. M., and Paivio, A. (1991). Dual coding theory and education. Educ. Psychol. Rev. 3: 149–210.Google Scholar
  6. Falkenhainer, B., Forbus, K. D., and Gentner, D. (1989-90). The structure-mapping enginge: Algorithm and examples. Artif. Intell. 41: 1–63.Google Scholar
  7. Farah, M. J., Hammond, K. M., Levine, D.N., and Calvanio, R. (1988). Visual and spatial mental imagery: Dissociable systems of representation. Cogn. Psychol. 20: 439–462.Google Scholar
  8. Garrod, S.C. (1985). Incremental pragmatic interpretation versus occasional inferencing during fluent reading. In Rickheit, G., and Strohner, H. (eds.), Inferences inText Processing, North-Holland, Amsterdam, pp. 161–181.Google Scholar
  9. Gentner, D. (1989). The mechanisms of analogical learning. In Vosniadou, S., and Ortony, A. (eds.), Similarity and Analogical Reasoning, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England, pp. 197–241.Google Scholar
  10. Graesser, A. C., Millis, K. K., and Zwaan, R. A. (1997). Discourse comprehension. Annu. Rev. Psychol. 48: 163–189.Google Scholar
  11. Johnson-Laird, P. N. (1983). Mental Models. Towards a Cognitive Science of Language, Interference, and Consciousness, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England.Google Scholar
  12. Johnson-Laird, P. N., and Byrne, R. M. J. (1991). Deduction, Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ.Google Scholar
  13. Kintsch, W., Welsch, D., Schmalhofer, F., and Zimny, S. (1990). Sentence memory:Atheoretical analysis. J. Mem. Lang. 29: 133–159.Google Scholar
  14. Kosslyn, S. M. (1991). A cognitive neuroscience of visual cognition: Further developments. In Logie, R. H., and Denis, M. (eds.), Mental Images in Human Cognition, North-Holland, Amsterdam, pp. 351–381.Google Scholar
  15. Kosslyn, S. M. (1994). Image and Brain. The Resolution of the Imagery Debate, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  16. Kruley, P., Sciama, S. C., and Glenberg, A.M. (1994). On-line processing of textual illustrations in the visuospatial sketchpad: Evidence from dual-task studies. Mem. Cogn. 22: 261–272.Google Scholar
  17. Kulhavy, R.W., Stock, W. A., and Kealy, W. A. (1993). How geographic maps increase recall of instructional text. Educ. Technol. Res. Dev. 41: 47–62.Google Scholar
  18. Larkin, J. H., and Simon, H. A. (1987). Why a diagram is (sometimes) worth ten thousand words. Cogn. Sci. 11: 65–99.Google Scholar
  19. Levie, H. W., and Lentz, R. (1982). Effects of text illustrations: A review of research. Educ. Commun. Technol. J. 30: 195–232.Google Scholar
  20. Levin, J. R., Anglin, G. J., and Carney, R. N. (1987). On empirically validating functions of pictures in prose. In Willows, D. M., and Houghton, H. A. (eds.), The Psychology of Illustration, Vol. 1, Springer, New York, pp. 51–86.Google Scholar
  21. Lowe, R. K. (1993). Constructing a mental representation from an abstract technical diagram. Learn. Instr. 3(3): 157–179.Google Scholar
  22. Mayer, R. E. (1997). Multimedia learning: Are we asking the right questions? Educ. Psychol. 32: 1–19.Google Scholar
  23. Mokros, J. R., and Tinker, R. F. (1987). The impact of microcomputer based labs on children's ability to interpret graphs. J. Res. Sci. Teach. 24(4): 369–383.Google Scholar
  24. Paivio, A. (1986). Mental Representations: A Dual Coding Approach, Oxford University Press, Oxford, England.Google Scholar
  25. Palmer, S. E. (1978). Fundamental aspects of cognitive representation. In Rosch, E., and Lloyd, B. B. (eds.), Cognition and Categorization, Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, pp. 259–303.Google Scholar
  26. Peirce, C. S. (1906). Prolegomena to an apology for pragmaticism. Monist 492-546.Google Scholar
  27. Peterson, D. (1996). Forms of Representation, Intellect, Exeter.Google Scholar
  28. Pinker, S. (1990). A theory of graph comprehension. In Freedle, R. (ed.), Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Testing, Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, pp. 73–126.Google Scholar
  29. Schmalhofer, F., and Glavanov, D. (1986). Three components of understanding a programmer's manual: Verbatim, propositional, and situational representations. J. Mem. Lang. 25: 279–294.Google Scholar
  30. Schnotz, W. (1993). On the relation between dual coding and mental models in graphics comprehension. Learn. Instr. 3: 247–249.Google Scholar
  31. Schnotz, W. (1994). Aufbau vonWissenstrukturen. Untersuchungen zur Kohärenzbildung beim Wissenserwerb mit Texten, Pschologie Verlags Union, Weinheim.Google Scholar
  32. Schnotz, W. (2001). Sign sytems, technologies, and the acquisition of knowledge. In Rouet, J. F., Levonen, J., and Biardeau, A. (eds.), Multimedia Learning–Cognitive and Instructional Issues, Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp. 9–29.Google Scholar
  33. Schnotz, W., and Bannert, M. (1999). Support and interference effects in learning from multiple representations. In Bagnara, S. (ed.), European Conference on Cognitive Science, 27th-30th Oct. 1999, Istituto di Psicologia Consiglio, Nazionale delle Ricerche, Rome, Italy, pp. 447–452.Google Scholar
  34. Shepard, R. N. (1984). Ecological constraints on internal representations: Resonant kinematics of perceiving, thinking, and dreaming. Psychol. Rev. 91: 417–447.Google Scholar
  35. Shuell, T. J. (1988). The role of the student in the learning from instruction. Contemp. Educ. Psychol. 13: 276–295.Google Scholar
  36. Sims, V. K., and Hegarty, M. (1997). Mental animation in the visuospatial sketchpad: Evidence from dual-tasks studies. Mem. Cogn. 25: 321–332.Google Scholar
  37. Tufte, E. R. (1983). The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Graphics Press, Cheshire, CT.Google Scholar
  38. Ullman, S. (1984). Visual routines. Cognition 18: 97–159.Google Scholar
  39. Van Dijk, T. A., and Kintsch, W. (1983). Strategies of Discourse Comprehension, Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  40. Wainer, H. (1992). Understanding graphs and tables. Educ. Res. 21(1): 14–23.Google Scholar
  41. Weaver, C. A., III, Mannes, S., and Fletcher, C. R. (eds.). (1995). Discourse Comprehension, Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ.Google Scholar
  42. Weidenmann, B. (1989). When good pictures fail: An information-processing approach to the effects of illustrations. In Mandl, H., and Levin, J. R. (eds.), Knowledge Acquisition From Text and Pictures, North-Holland, Amsterdam, pp. 157–170.Google Scholar
  43. Wertheimer, M. (1938). Laws of Organization in Perceptual Forms in a Source Book for Gestalt Psychology, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London.Google Scholar
  44. Winn, W. D. (1994). Contributions of perceptual and cognitive processes to the comprehension of graphics. In Schnotz, W., and Kulhavy, R. (eds.), Comprehension of Graphics, Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp. 3–27.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wolfgang Schnotz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of General and Educational PsychologyUniversity of Koblenz – LandauLandauGermany

Personalised recommendations