Translation of the written word into a visual interpretation: Enhancing learning through the formal inclusion of comprehension strategies and the use of analogy to explain meaning

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McAuley, Mike
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Allan Davies

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Illustration is a visual language which ‘interprets’ information and delivers it in a communicable pictorial form. Most commonly it interprets the written word, whether it be in an expository or narrative structure. The process of translation from written to visual is the topic of this study. Specifically it looks at the processes novice design students go through in understanding expository text and how they use analogical thinking as a method for generating ideas which can then be taken through to a final illustration. It is argued here that comprehension of written text has been overlooked in design education where there is an a priori assumption that what an individual brings to a learning situation is sufficient for effective conceptualisation to take place. It may be that some students have poor strategies for comprehending key themes within written text. Interpretation first of all requires good comprehension or otherwise concepts are merely the product of poorly understood information. The second but interconnected aspect of this study, that of analogical reasoning, is being explored as to its potential as a creative idea generation strategy. Research carried out with students in three separate investigations presented students with the opportunity to ‘think’ about a written text from an analogical perspective. By explaining something through a similar situation the challenge was for students to incorporate this way of ‘seeing’ text into their illustrations.

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Enhancing Curricula: contributing to the future, meeting the challenges of the 21st century in the disciplines of art, design and communication

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