VRA 2013, Teaching Research with Images, Brown


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Presented by Nicole E. Brown at the Annual Conference of the Visual Resources Association, April 3rd - April 6th, 2013, in Providence, Rhode Island.

Session #10: Eyes Opened: Visual Resources for Visual Literacy
ORGANIZER / MODERATOR: Maureen Burns, IMAGinED Consulting
Stephanie Beene, Lewis and Clark College
Nicole E. Brown, NYU Libraries
Maureen Burns, IMAGinED Consulting
Brooke Scherer, University of Tampa

With a long history of archiving and providing access to educational images in a variety of media, visual resources specialists have always been attuned to the responsible and meaningful use of images. Our facilities are often key learning spaces for educators and students seeking assistance with associated technical, legal, and aesthetic matters. With twenty-first century teaching placing such importance on visual literacy, information professionals have added instructional activities on this topic to the repertoire of services being provided. To nurture this expanded range of skills and information literacies, visual resources curators partner with instructors and librarians in classroom training activities, offer workshops in how to create meaningful content with new technological tools, and take advantage of other face-time opportunities to promote visual literacy through consultations. Better understanding the expanding base of innovative research and current visual literacy competency standards assists with the identification of functional roles and enhances the effectiveness of such instruction.

What sort of content do we teach? What initial questions do we encourage students to ask? What specific research should become the primary focus? What tools might educators employ for instructing students toward adequate assessments of both preexisting and future cross-cultural visual communication? These questions will be explored starting with background information on cultural definitions, moving to pedagogical theory and the tools of evaluation, then using classroom content and projects to demonstrate how the constructs of graphic design and visual communication are shifting due to the infinite global spectrum. Various examples of how visual media are being used across the liberal arts curriculum will be explored and methods for partnering with faculty to build visual competencies discussed. Concrete ways to use image resources to deepen the integration of information literacy skills and concepts into interdisciplinary instructional situations, especially student orientations, will be demonstrated. Visual literacy standards will be examined with an emphasis on how they specifically apply to the profession and practices of visual resources. In the end, incorporating visual resources into teaching enriches learning by enlivening the classroom and deepening the understanding of core concepts through reflection.
Thursday April 4, 2013 1:35pm - 2:55pm

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  • I hope to bring some of the Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education to life through examples of using them in the classroom to teach information literacy concepts.
  • Visual communication is a core competencyfor participating in today’s highly visual culture and librarians can useimages in researchinstruction across the disciplines.Visual literacy enables a person to: find, interpret,evaluate, use, and create images and visual media. Using images in theclassroom builds a bridge between visual and information literacy.
  • Images are great framing devices -- hook the audience; capture their interest, provide cohesion. Let me give you a couple of examples:
  • I begin the workshop by asking students to imagine that, instead of being in our classroom, we are here, in this room. I ask them to imagine that the room is full of people deep in conversation – there are people on the couch, along the fireplace, etc. I give them a minute to imagine that they have to engage in conversation with the people in this room. And, after a minute or so, they say things like: “I’d need to introduce myself.” “I’d have to go up to a group and tell them who I am.” And, inevitably, someone says “I’d have to LISTEN.” This sets the tone for the whole session…
  • And “Research as a conversation…” becomes the theme.
  • Course-Related image example: Interdisciplinary Seminar called Memory & The City, focus on cultural memory and memorializationAt the start of class, I gave students a few minutes to jot down answers to the following questions:
  • What do I see?What is going on? Why do I think this image was created?
  • We open up a discussion and debrief The image is from the Library of CongressAmerican Memory Project and it’s called“Bread line beside the Brooklyn Bridge approach” and that it was created during the Great Depression as part of the Farm Security Administration’s effort to record American life between 1935 and 1944This “warm-up” is a great lead-in to our research workshop. I emphasize that, like the exercise, research is an iterative, question-driven process. (Note: This photograph us from the same series as Dorothea Lange’s iconic image of the depression. “Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age thirty-two. Nipomo, California Other” also known as “Migrant mother”)
  • Images can also increase understanding of rhetorical, historical, and cultural context.
  • An image like this helps them to contextualize a reference database by showing what subject encyclopedias look like.
  • Content from image-heavy databases like ProQuest’sNYTimes Historical can make history come alive. A course on Food Writing called “Food for Thought” - historical research assignment. In the workshop, students use the NYTimes Historical Archive to find an article from the 1950’s about pizza They go beyond the search results to the “Page View”
  • And see the article in its original context.
  • The, we spend some time analyzing the ad. Note, some questions for ad analysis: What is the general ambience of the advertisement? What mood does it create? How does it do this?What is the relationship between pictorial elements and written material and what does this tell us?What is the use of space in the advertisement? Is there a lot of 'white space" or is it full of graphic and written elements?What signs and symbols do we find? What role do they play in the ad's impact?What about the facial expressions, poses, hairstyle, age, sex, hair color, ethnicity, education, occupation, relationships (of one to the other)?What theme or themes do we find in the advertisement? What is it about? (The plot of an advertisement may involve a man and a woman drinking but the theme might be jealousy, faithlessness, ambition, passion, etc.)What is the item being advertised and what role does it play in American culture and society?What sociological, political, economic or cultural attitudes are indirectly reflected in the advertisement?
  • Image related to course content can help clarify research concepts. Here’s one I used with an course called Wiseguys, Spies, and Private Eyes – they studied a lot of Film Noir and so this still from the 1952 film On Dangerous Ground works well. I project the image and give students 1 minute to jot down all thewords and phrasestheycan to describeit. Then, they get 1 minute to share what they wrote with a neighbor. After that, we open it up to discussion and a few volunteersshare their responses. Then, I explain that I got the image from an image database – ARTSTOR - and I show them how the database describes this image
  • This helps students see why structured metadata makes a difference when you’re trying to find things!
  • I also useimages to create interactive, participatory slideshows for orientations Pass out 2 question cards
  • A. As many as you need, or can reasonably carry. Really. Try it out sometime. Students can have up to 200 items checked out at a time!
  • A. When you search our catalog, you’ll get a call number that looks like this. Like most academic libraries, we use the Library of Congress classification system to organize our books by subject. There are signs on each floor and in the elevators to help you navigate the building andfind what you need.
  • Last year, we went through 25 questions just like this with groups of about 100 students during orientation – it takes about 20 minutes and is a lot of fun.The images keep our orientation light, capitalize on students’ excitement to be in NYC, and let us answer the questions we know they have but would never ask if we said “OK, who has questions about the library”
  • By now, you may be wondering: “Does this really work?” so I’ll back up these examples with some theory and pedagogy.
  • One reason this works is that, quite simply, pictures are better than words. This concept even has a name. It’s the:
  • Picture Superiority Effect This effect refers to the finding that pictures are easier to remember than words.This effect has been proven time and time again in memory tests. The reasonis that pictures access meaning more fully than words because they are processed more deeply in our brains.
  • Slides like this one. This slide essentially negates the Picture Superiority Effect. No matter what I say when I show this slide, you’re reading what I wrote and you’re doing it faster that I could ever deliver the content. You’re not listening to what I’m saying or even really seeing the picture. My point here is not to bash PowerPoint, but to get us thinkingof ways to use visuals to make instructional content engaging.
  • Besides the Picture Superiority Effect… the model of Experiential Learning lines up with using visuals in the classroom. Itbegins with a Direct Experience. The EXPERIENCE is where the learner does something – like looking at an image. Next is REFLECTION –where the learner makes meaning by engaging intellectually and creatively with the material – like sharing ideas with their neighbors in class. Finally, learners APPLY what they’ve learned and figure out how the new skills and concepts fit into their daily lives.
  • Images fit particularly well here in the Reflection Stage, where learners can make connections to what they already know in order to move on and apply that information to make new meaning.
  • Teaching with images is also “sticky,” by which I mean likely to be remembered.The book,Made to Stick”explores “naturally sticky” ideas—from urban legends to folk medical cures– to figure out what they have in common. Their most valuable takeaway is their SUCCESs model.
  • According to the Heath brothers, there are 6 TRAITS of stickiness. First, in order for an idea to be sticky, it has to be SIMPLE – Simplicity is NOT about dumbing things down, it’s about finding the core of the idea – what is the onething you want to focus on. Here, I am focusing on the getting people to think about being in this room. PRINCIPLE 2 isUNEXPECTEDNESS:Sometimes it’s good to go against people's expectations and even be a bit counterintuitive. This can be as simple as starting a library workshop by using an image. PRINCIPLE 3 is CONCRETENES: This is about explaining ideas in terms ofhuman actions and sensory information. Here, this is about having students describe having a conversation, something they all know how to do. There is nothing abstract about it. PRINCIPLE 4 isCREDIBILITY: This one is two fold – I give my credibility by introducing myself and I give credibility to this exercise by making it relate directly to the students’ research tasks. PRINCIPLE 5 isEMOTIONAL: For people to remember something, it’s important that they feel something. Images evoke emotion and, at the very least, pique curiosity and maybe even imagination. PRINCIPLE 6 is STORIES: We are hard-wired for them are they are naturally sticky. This “tale” of research as a conversation is more likely to be remembered than if I had simply said it while deep into a literature review search.
  • That said, I hope you’ve enjoyed this story and that it “sticks” in your heads!I hope you got some ideas and see how incorporating visuals into teaching can enrich student learning,enlivening the classroom, and deepen students’ understanding of core research concepts by offering opportunities for reflection. Gettinglibrarians to use images is the first step in integrating visual and information literacy.
  • The Parlour by S. A. Lee, via Flickr.com (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).Bread line beside the Brooklyn Bridge approach by Farm Security Administration: Office of War Information Photograph Collection , via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Brian with the Flintstones, New York City by N. Goldin, via ARTstor.On Dangerous Ground by N. Ray, via ARTstor. Empire State Pigeon by ZeroOne, via Flickr.com (CC BY-SA 2.0). Midday Long Exposure, Brooklyn Bridge, New York City by A. Mace, via Flickr.com (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).Nemo by S. Bacioiu, via Flickr.com (CC BY-NC 2.0).
  • VRA 2013, Teaching Research with Images, Brown

    1. 1. Teaching Research With ImagesIntegrating Visual & Information LiteracyNicole E. BrownMultidisciplinary Instruction Librarian, NYU LibrariesVisual Resources Association, 2013
    2. 2. Find, interpret, evaluate,use, and create images.
    3. 3. FramingDevices
    4. 4. Research as a conversation
    5. 5. Contextualizing“the conversation”
    6. 6. Who is theauthor?Who is theaudience?What is thepurpose?
    7. 7. Subjects:Detective and mystery filmsFilm noirFilm--United States--20th C. A.DMotion picture producers anddirectors--United StatesRyan, Robert, 1913-1973Lupino, Ida, 1918-Bond, Ward, 1903-1960
    8. 8. InteractiveOrientation
    9. 9. Theory&Pedagogy
    10. 10. PictureSuperiorityEffect
    11. 11. Picture Superiority Effect• Pictures are more easilyremembered than words.– Access meaning more fully.– Processed more deeply inthe brain.– Access both pictorial andverbal schemas.• Example: See picture of afish and think:– Fish, clownfish, Nemo, etc.
    12. 12. ExperienceShareProcessGeneralizeApplyDOREFLECTAPPLY
    13. 13. ExperienceShareProcessGeneralizeApplyDOREFLECTAPPLY
    14. 14. implenexpectedoncreterediblemotionaltoriesSUCCES
    15. 15. Thank you!Nicole E. Brownneb1@nyu.edu
    16. 16. Image CreditsTitle by A. Creator, via source (CC License Type).The Parlour by S. A. Lee, via Flickr.com (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).Bread line beside the Brooklyn Bridge approach by Farm SecurityAdministration: Office of War Information Photograph Collection , viaLibrary of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.Brian with the Flintstones, New York City by N. Goldin, via ARTstor.On Dangerous Ground by N. Ray, via ARTstor.Empire State Pigeon by ZeroOne, via Flickr.com (CC BY-SA 2.0).Midday Long Exposure, Brooklyn Bridge, New York City by A. Mace, viaFlickr.com (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).Nemo by S. Bacioiu, via Flickr.com (CC BY-NC 2.0).