Visual-verbal integration

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Brief statement of principle

Visual-verbal integration: The process by which learners link or combine visual and verbal information to form a coherent knowledge representation. By integrating this verbal and visual information, students form a deeper understanding of the geometry principle that is retained over time.

Description of principle

Operational definition

Visual-verbal integration is assessed by tasks in which both visual and verbal information must be considered together, in meaningful ways.


In geometry, students need to connect the conceptual definition of a geometry principle (e.g., a verbal description of "Vertical Angles") with the relevant visual diagram features and configurations (e.g., the visual instantiation of "Vertical Angles" formed by two crossing lines where the angles share a common vertex but no common sides). Visual-verbal integration can be tested by having students analyze the appropriateness of geometry rules to a particular diagram.

Experimental support

Laboratory experiment support

Prior research has shown that students benefit from activities that coordinate both visual and verbal sources; these activities include verbal comparison of self-generated and ideal diagrams (Van Meter, 2001; Van Meter, Aleksic, Schwartz, & Garner, 2006) as well as dragging and dropping verbal information into a diagram to create an integrated representation (Bodemer, Ploetzner, Feuerlein, & Spada, 2004).

In vivo experiment support

Theoretical rationale

(These entries should link to one or more learning processes.)

Conditions of application

Caveats, limitations, open issues, or dissenting views

Variations (descendants)

Generalizations (ascendants)


Bodemer, D., Ploetzner, R., Feuerlein, I., & Spada, H. (2004). The active integration of information during learning with dynamic and interactive visualisations. Learning and Instruction, 14, 325-341.

Butcher, K., & Aleven, V. (2007). Integrating visual and verbal knowledge during classroom learning with computer tutors. In D.S. McNamara & J.G. Trafton (Eds.), Proceedings of the 29th Annual Cognitive Science Society (pp. 137-142). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Butcher, K., & Aleven, V. (submitted). Diagram Interaction during Intelligent Tutoring in Geometry: Support for Knowledge Retention and Deep Transfer. Submitted to CogSci 2008.

Van Meter, P. (2001). Drawing construction as a strategy for learning from text. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93(1), 129-140.

Van Meter, P., Aleksic, M., Schwartz, A., & Garner, J. (2006). Learner-generated drawing as a strategy for learning from content area text. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 31, 142-166.

See also integration and coordination.