Research conducted primarily during the 1970s and 1980s supported the assertion that carefully constructed text illustrations generally enhance learners' performance on a variety of text-dependent cognitive outcomes. Research conducted throughout the 1990s still strongly supports that assertion. The more recent research has extended pictures-in-text conclusions to alternative media and technological formats and has begun to explore more systematically the “whys,” “whens,” and “for whoms” of picture facilitation, in addition to the “whethers” and “how muchs.” Consideration is given here to both more and less conventional types of textbook illustration, with several “tenets for teachers” provided in relation to each type.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Adler, C. (1993). Directed picture processing: The effects for learners on recall of related text. Diss. Abstr. Int. 54(3-A): 863.
Atkinson, R. K., Levin, J. R., Beitzel, B. D., and Glover, T. A. (1999). In search of the unique cognitive benefits of mnemonic matrices. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Montreal, April 1999.
Atkinson, R. K., Levin, J. R., Kiewra, K. A., Meyers, T., Kim, S., Atkinson, L. A., Renandya, W. A., and Hwang, Y. (1999). Matrix and mnemonic text-processing adjuncts: Comparing and combining their components. J. Educ. Psychol. 91: 342–357.
Balluerka, N. (1995). The influence of instructions, outlines, and illustrations on the comprehension and recall of scientific texts. Contemp. Educ. Psychol. 20: 369–375.
Benson, P. J. (1995). Problems in picturing text. Diss. Abstr. Int. Sec. A: Humanities Soc. Sci. 55(11-A): 3357.
Bernard, R. M. (1990). Using extended captions to improve learning from instructional illustrations. Br. J. Educ. Technol. 21: 215–225.
Betrancourt, M., and Bisseret, A. (1998). Integrating textual and pictorial information via popup windows: An experimental study. Behav. Inf. Technol. 17: 263–273.
Blystone, R., and Dettling, B. (1990). Visual literacy in science textbooks. In Rowe, M. B. (ed.), What Research Says to the Science Teacher: The Process of Knowing, Vol. 6, National Science Teachers Association, Washington, DC, pp. 19–40.
Bransford, J. D. (1979). Human Cognition: Learning, Understanding, and Remembering, Wadsworth, Belmont, CA.
Bruner, J. S. (1966). Toward a Theory of Instruction, Norton, New York.
Carney, R.N., and Levin, J. R. (1998). Coming to terms with the keyword method in introductory psychology: A “neuromnemonic” example. Teaching Psychol. 25: 132–134.
Carney, R. N., Levin, M. E., and Levin, J. R. (1993). Mnemonic strategies: Instructional techniques worth remembering. Teaching Except. Child. 25(4): 24–30.
Clottes, J. (2001). France's magical ice age art: Chauvet cave. Nat. Geogr. 200(2): 104–121.
Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical Power Analysis for the Behavioral Sciences, Rev. edn., Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ.
Constable, H., Cambell, B., and Brown, R. (1988). Sectional drawings from science textbooks: An experimental investigation into pupils' understanding. Br. J. Educ. Psychol. 58: 89–102.
Cutting, J. E., and Massironi, M. (1998). Pictures and their special status in perceptual and cognitive inquiry. In Hochberg, J., Carterette, E., and Friedman, M. (eds.), Perception and Cognition at the Century's End: Handbook of Perception and Cognition, 2nd edn., Academic Press, San Diego, pp. 137–168.
David, P. (1998). News concreteness and visual-verbal association: Do news pictures narrow the recall gap between concrete and abstract news? Hum. Comm. Res. 25: 180–201.
Dean, R. S., and Kulhavy, R.W. (1981). The influence of spatial organization in prose learning. J. Educ. Psychol. 73: 57–64.
Dretzke, B. J. (1993). Effects of pictorial mnemonic strategy usage on prose recall of young, middle-aged, and older adults. Educ. Gerontol. 19: 489–502.
Fang, Z. (1996). Illustrations, text, and the child reader. What are pictures in children's storybooks for? Read. Horizons 37: 130–142.
Glenberg, A. M., and Langston, W. E. (1992). Comprehension of illustrated text: Pictures help to build mental models. J. Mem. Lang. 31: 129–151.
Goodman, K., Maras, L., and Birdseye, D. (1994). Look! Look! Who stole the pictures from the picture books? The basalization of picture books. New Advocate 7(1): 1–24.
Guri, S. (1985). The function of diagrams in learning from social science self-study texts. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, March-April 1985.
Gyselinck, V., and Tardieu, H. (1994). Illustrations, mental models, and comprehension of instructional text. In Schnotz, W., and Kulhavy, R.W. (eds.), Comprehension and Graphics, North-Holland, Amsterdam.
Gyselinck, V., and Tardieu, H. (1999). The role of illustrations in text comprehension: What, when, for whom, and why? In van Oostendorp, H., and Goldman, S. R. (eds.), The Construction of Mental Operations During Reading, Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ.
Higbee, K. L. (1988). Your Memory: How It Works and How to Improve It, 2nd edn., Prentice Hall, New York.
Higgins, L. C. (1979). Effects of strategy-oriented training on children's inference from pictures. Educ. Comm. Technol. J. 27: 265–280.
Ho, E. (1999). The Heart of the Matter: The Use of Mnemonics and Analogies in Learning Science Text, Unpublished Masters Thesis, University ofWisconsin, Madison.
Iding, M. K. (1997). Can questions facilitate learning from illustrated science texts? Read. Psychol. 18: 1–29.
Jenkins, J. J. (1979). Four points to remember: A tetrahedral model of memory explanations. In Cermak, L. S., and Craik, F. I. M. (eds.), Levels of Processing in Human Memory, Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, pp. 429–446.
Lesgold, A. M., Levin, J. R., Shimron, J., and Guttman, J. (1975). Pictures and young children's learning from oral prose. J. Educ. Psychol. 67: 636–642.
Levie, W. H. (1987). Research on pictures: A guide to the literature. In Willows, D. M., and Houghton, H. A. (eds.), The Psychology of Illustration: I. Basic Research, Springer, New York, pp. 1–50.
Levie, W. H., and Lentz, R. (1982). Effects of text illustrations: A review of research. Educ. Comm. Technol. J. 30: 195–232.
Levin, J. R. (1980). Try a new method of vocabulary instruction. Weekly Reader (Teacher's Edition 4) 61(25): 1–3.
Levin, J. R. (1981). On functions of pictures in prose. In Pirozzolo, F. J., and Wittrock, M. C. (eds.), Neuropsychological and Cognitive Processes in Reading, Academic Press, New York, pp. 203–228.
Levin, J. R. (1982). Pictures as prose-learning devices. In Flammer, A., and Kintsch, W. (eds.), Discourse Processing, North-Holland, Amsterdam, pp. 412–444.
Levin, J. R. (1983). Pictorial strategies for school learning: Practical illustrations. In Pressley, M., and Levin, J. R. (eds.), Cognitive Strategy Research: Educational Applications, Springer, New York, pp. 213–237.
Levin, J. R. (1986). Four cognitive principles of learning-strategy instruction. Educ. Psychol. 21: 3–17.
Levin, J. R. (1995). Stalking the wild mnemos: Research that's easy to remember. In Brannigan, G. G. (ed.), The Enlightened Educator: Research Adventures in the Schools, McGraw-Hill, New York, pp. 85–108.
Levin, J. R. (1998). How to remember (almost) everything. In Suid, M. (ed.), The Kids' How to Do (Almost) Everything Guide, Monday Morning Books, Palo Alto, CA, pp. 126–128.
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: I. Basic Research, Springer, New York, pp. 51–85.
Levin, J. R., and Berry, J. K. (1980). Children's learning of all the news that's fit to picture. Educ. Comm. Technol. J. 28: 177–185.
Levin, J. R., Divine-Hawkins, P., Kerst, S. M., and Guttmann, J. (1974). Individual differences in learning from pictures and words: The development and application of an instrument. J. Educ. Psychol. 66: 296–303.
Levin, J. R., and Mayer, R. E. (1993). Understanding illustrations in text. In Britton, B. K., Woodward, A., and Brinkley, M. (eds.), Learning from Textbooks, Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, pp. 95–113.
Levin, J. R., Shriberg, L. K., and Berry, J. K. (1983). A concrete strategy for remembering abstract prose. Am. Educ. Res. J. 20: 277–290.
Levin, M. E., and Levin, J. R. (1990). Scientific mnemonomies: Methods for maximizing more than memory. Am. Educ. Res. J. 27: 301–321.
Levin, M. E., Rosenheck, M. B., and Levin, J. R. (1988). Mnemonic text-processing strategies: A teaching science for science teaching. Read. Psychol. 9: 343–363.
Mandl, H., and Levin, J. R. (eds.) (1989). Knowledge Acquisition from Text and Pictures, Elsevier, Amsterdam.
Marcus, N., Cooper, M., and Sweller, J. (1996). Understanding instructions. J. Educ. Psychol. 88: 49–63.
Markman, E. M. (1979). Realizing that you don't understand: Elementary school children's awareness of inconsistencies. Child Dev. 50: 643–655.
Mayer, R. E. (1989). Systematic thinking fostered by illustrations in scientific text. J. Educ. Psychol. 81: 240–246.
Mayer, R. E. (1992). Illustrations that instruct. In Glaser, R. (ed.), Advances in Instructional Psychology, Vol. 4, Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, pp. 253–284.
Mayer, R. E., and Anderson, R. (1992). The instructive animation: Helping students build connections between words and pictures in multimedia learning. J. Educ. Psychol. 84: 444–452.
Mayer, R. E., and Gallini, J. K. (1990). When is an illustration worth ten thousand words? J. Educ. Psychol. 82: 715–726.
Mayer, R. E., and Moreno, R. (1998). A split-attention effect in multimedia learning: Evidence for dual processing systems in working memory. J. Educ. Psychol. 90: 312–320.
McCormick, C. B., and Levin, J. R. (1987). Mnemonic prose-learning strategies. In McDaniel, M. A., and Pressley, M. (eds.), Imagery and Related Mnemonic Processes: Theories, Individual Differences, and Applications, Springer, New York, pp. 392–406.
Mousavi, S. Y., Low, R., and Sweller, J. (1995). Reducing cognitive load by mixing auditory and visual presentation modes. J. Educ. Psychol. 87: 319–334.
Ollerenshaw, A., Aidman, E., and Kidd, G. (1997). Is an illustration always worth ten thousandwords? Effects of prior knowledge, learning style, and multimedia illustrations on text comprehension. Int. J. Instruct. Media 24: 227–238.
Paivio, A. (1971). Imagery and Verbal Processes, Holt, Rinehart, & Co., New York.
Paivio, A. (1986). Mental Representations: A Dual-Coding Approach, Oxford University Press, New York.
Palincsar, A. S., and Brown, A. L. (1984). Reciprocal teaching of comprehension fostering and monitoring activities. Cogn. Instruct. 1: 117–175.
Peeck, J. (1993). Increasing picture effects in learning from illustrated text. Learn. Instruct. 3: 227–238.
Raymond, A. (1995). Author, editor-in-chief, teacher: Patricia Lee Gauch. Teaching Pre K-8 26(1): 62–64.
Reid, D. J., and Beveridge, M. (1990). Reading illustrated science texts: A micro-computer investigation of children's strategies. Br. J. Educ. Psychol. 60: 76–87.
Reinking, D. R., Hayes, D. A., and McEneaney, J. E. (1988). Good and poor readers' use of explicitly cued graphic aids. J. Read. Behav. 20: 229–243.
Renandya, W. A., Hwang, Y., Rich, J.D., Ruffalo, S. L., Levin, M. E., and Levin, J. R. (1993). Explorations in mnemonic mythology. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Atlanta, April 1993.
Riding, R. J., and Douglas, G. (1993). The effect of cognitive style and mode of presentation on learning performance. Br. J. Educ. Psychol. 63: 297–307.
Rosenheck, M. B., Levin, M. E., and Levin, J. R. (1989). Learning botany concepts mnemonically: Seeing the forest and the trees. J. Educ. Psychol. 81: 196–203.
Rubman, C. N., and Waters, H. S. (2000). A, B seeing: The role of reconstructive processes in children's comprehension monitoring. J. Educ. Psychol. 92: 503–514.
Rummel, N., Levin, J. R., and Beitzel, B. D. (2001). Can mnemonic strategies enhance students, processing and recall of integrated text? Unpublished manuscript.
Samuels, S. J. (1970). Effects of pictures on learning to read, comprehension and attitudes. Rev. Educ. Res. 40: 397–407.
Schallert, D. L. (1980). The role of illustrations in reading comprehension. In Spiro, R. J., Bruce, B. C., and Brewer, W. F. (eds.), Theoretical Issues in Reading Comprehension: Perspectives from Cognitive Psychology, Linguistics, Artificial Intelligence, and Education, Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, pp. 503–524.
Sipe, L. R. (1998). How picture books work: A semiotically framed theory of text-picture relationships. Children's Lit. Educ. 29: 97–108.
Smith, B. D., and Elifson, J. M. (1986). Do pictures make a difference in college textbooks? Read. Horizons 26: 270–277.
Stewig, J. W. (1992). Reading pictures, reading text: Some similarities. New Advocate 5(1): 11–22.
Waddill, P. J., and McDaniel, M. A. (1992). Pictorial enhancement of text memory: Limitations imposed by picture type and comprehension skill. Mem. Cogn. 20: 472–482.
Waddill, P. J., McDaniel, M. A., and Einstein, G. O. (1988). Illustrations as adjuncts to prose: A test-appropriate processing approach. J. Educ. Psychol. 80: 457–464.
Wang, A. Y., and Newlin, M. H. (2000). Characteristics of students who enroll and succeed in psychology web-based classes. J. Educ. Psychol. 92: 137–143.
Weidenmann, B. (1989). When good pictures fail: An information-processing approach to the effect of illustrations. In Mandl, H., and Levin, J. R. (eds.), Knowledge Acquisition from Text and Pictures, Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp. 157–171.
Weidenmann, B., Paechter, M., and Hartmannsgruber, K. (1999). Structuring and sequencing of comples text-picture combinations. Europ. J. Psychol. Educ. 14: 185–202.
About this article
Cite this article
Carney, R.N., Levin, J.R. Pictorial Illustrations Still Improve Students' Learning from Text. Educational Psychology Review 14, 5–26 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1013176309260
- pictorial illustrations
- pictorial mnemonic strategies
- text illustrations
- adjunct pictures