Research on Using Visuals in The Classroom

Making the Most of Visual Aids

The majority of teachers recognize the importance of visual aids in aiding students in their understanding of content. Teachers appreciate the support that visuals provide in the classroom because they encourage students to make connections between different pieces of information, absorb large chunks of course content quickly, and serve as a memory aid for them.

However, we as teachers do not always approach the use of visual aids with the care and consideration that it deserves. We may be too relaxed in our monitoring of how students interpret visuals (allowing for the oversimplification of content) or how students create visuals (allowing for the oversimplification of content) (which shows whether they understand what should be included). As a result, students have difficulty making the necessary connections between course content and their personal experiences.

Yes, I would like to receive the newsletter promotion at the end of the month.
As a teacher who relies on visual aids such as graphic organizers and charts in the classroom, I have three strategies for incorporating visual aids into the classroom without detracting from the course content.


We frequently hold the mistaken belief that a visual can be understood on its own, with little or no explanation. It is preferable to direct students’ attention directly to the information we hope they will see (or interpret) as a result of the particular lesson being taught. For example, it can be useful in guiding students through the process of discovering why a visual was chosen and what its key characteristics are, as well as identifying the non-essential elements of the visual. And we should be clear about what we expect the students to learn as a result of their investigation. The objective of using props such as an officer’s cap and a replica pistol in his lectures on literature set during the American Civil War, for example, is to assist his students to develop a foundational understanding of an author’s motivation and inspiration.

It is my preference to show a “runner-up” image and ask students to examine why the image did not make the final cut if time permits it. This dialogue may help them have a better understanding. Teachers can also use prompts to assist students in gaining a more in-depth understanding. “This image is a stronger depiction of the topic because ” and “This image makes me think about from our lesson, which is significant because ” are examples of how to express yourself visually.


When providing a visual aid, the majority of teachers promote some amount of class discussion, but we need to go a step further to ensure that all students are engaged. Using visual aids, we can encourage a discussion on how they aid in the processing of course content. Consider asking students to discuss how the image reinforces—or presents a new challenge to—what they have previously learned about relevant vocabulary terms. In my College Readiness class, we go through a line graph that compares letter grades with attendance, and we talk about how the upward trend of the lines supports our predictions that there is a link between consistent attendance and higher marks, which is supported by the data. We also have some concerns about the story told by the graph: aside from poorer grades, what other repercussions do absentee students face?

To increase students’ processing opportunities, use a think-aloud to get students talking about what makes a visual useful versus the qualities that seem less important to understanding the theme or central message of the graphic or its connection to other content to increase students’ processing opportunities.

Students should be pushed to think more deeply. For example, to encourage retrieval practice, remove the image from the classroom and urge students to break down the concepts represented in the visual entirely based on their memories. Discussion of any differences between what the pupils recollect and what is visible in the photograph should take place right away.

Misconceptions regarding the subject matter are a wonderful opportunity to be explored in this setting. It’s also a good moment to point out any potential blind spots or areas of uncertainty that may exist concerning the topic. When showing a bar graph, for example, warn students that the measurement scale may cause them to misinterpret the graph, particularly if the y-axis begins with a random number rather than zero or if the information is monitored in the short term rather than the long run.


As a class, we will be creating visual aids.
I feel that including students in the design of visual aids is critical to fostering buy-in and learning ownership, but I also believe that students may be hesitant to create their graphics and take on the designer role in the beginning.

Students should be able to benefit from the establishment of design parameters. For example, limit their format possibilities by identifying the type of graphic organizer or chart they are permitted to use, and allow time for them to discuss what kinds of visuals could be most effective based on the topic at hand. You can also give a specific number of important concepts to pupils, based on the subject examined, which they must reflect on with their graphic presentation.

Education specialist Matt Miller outlines the importance of keeping a library of icons for students who are still unsure about producing visuals on their own (related to the topic, of course). Instead of growing upset with the design work, students can concentrate on extracting meaning from the course material in this type of library setting.

Models are available in addition to parameters. Ensure that kids understand why you want to share their work with other students by asking them if it is okay to share their vision with others. Furthermore, teacher role models are crucial. Dr. Deidra Gammill, a high school teacher in Mississippi, makes it a point to include photographs in her notes so that her students may see real examples of what she is teaching them.

It is not enough for a picture to catch attention; it must also assist pupils in becoming more involved in the material. It has taken me a long time to grasp that aligning visual aids with course content is a deliberate effort, and one that is more difficult than it appears when you first start. We can ensure that our visual aids serve as windows into the purpose and architecture of our classes if we pay close attention to them.