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Visualization for Reading Comprehension. English Teaching and Autonomous Learning Conference, Fu Jen University, Taipei, Taiwan; 2009 Dr. Lauren Cifuentes. 30. 10. Which is more memorable?. The child’s playhouse stands thirty feet high and is ten feet across the front. Purpose.

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visualization for reading comprehension

Visualization for Reading Comprehension

English Teaching

and Autonomous Learning Conference,

Fu Jen University, Taipei, Taiwan; 2009

Dr. Lauren Cifuentes




Which is more memorable?

The child’s playhouse stands thirty feet high and is ten feet across the front.

  • Demonstrate the power of visualization for enhancing memory and retention
theoretical framework
Theoretical framework
  • Knowledge is constructed as a result of the interaction between the learner and environment.
  • Visualizations on paper or computers can function as cognitive tools to help support, guide, and extend learners’ thinking processes-
    • express one’s ideas, and understandings
    • build connections among old and new knowledge
    • meaning making of to-be-learned materials
supporting evidence
Supporting Evidence
  • Cifuentes, L., & Hsieh, Y. C. (2004). Visualization for middle school students’ engagement in science learning. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 23(2), 109-137.
  • Cifuentes, L., & Hsieh, Y. C. (2003). Visualization for construction of meaning during study time: A Qualitative Analysis. International Journal of Instructional Media, 30(3), 407-417.
  • Cifuentes, L., & Hsieh, Y. C. (2003). Visualization for construction of meaning during study time: A Quantitative Analysis. International Journal of Instructional Media, 30(4), 263-273.
  • Hsieh, Y.C., & Cifuentes, L. (2006). Student-generated visualization as a study strategy for science concept learning. Educational Technology and Society. 9(3), 137-148.
  • Kwon, S. Y., & Cifuentes, L. (2007). Using computers to individually-generate vs. collaboratively generate concept maps. Journal of Educational Technology and Society. 10(4), 269-280.
  • Kwon, S. Y., & Cifuentes, L. (2008). The comparative effect of individually-constructed vs. collaboratively-constructed computer-based concept maps. Computers and Education.
  • Hsieh,Yi-Chuan & Cifuentes, L. (unpublished). Visualization As A Study Strategy: A Cross-Cultural Study.
  • Well written expository text lends itself to visualization.
  • Autonomous learners can analyze text to determine how content should be visualized to clarify meaning.
  • That process enhances comprehension, memory, and retention.
  • Both paper and pencil and computer-based representations are facilitative when students have computer literacy.
  • Both individually and collaboratively constructing visualizations are facilitative when students know how to collaborate.
  • Visualization is equally effective for American and Taiwanese learners.
to facilitate learning autonomous learners can
To facilitate learning,autonomous learners can-
  • show interrelationships among concepts;
  • make connections with what they already know;
  • indicate special characteristics of concepts.

Let’s see how.

1 show interrelationships
1) Show Interrelationships
  • Cause and Effect
  • Hierarchy
  • Chronology
  • Sequence
  • Opposition
  • Comparison
  • Categories

What visual conventions do we use to represent each of these interrelationships?

1 show interrelationships1
1) Show Interrelationships
  • Cause and Effect causal chain
  • Hierarchy tree, flow chart, pyramid
  • Chronology timeline
  • Sequence numbers, letters, arrows
  • Opposition Ying/Yang, arrows
  • Comparison bar, line, pie graphs
  • Categories matrices

Cause & Effect: Example

Most ocean pollution caused by humans is concentrated along the coasts of continents. Industrial wastes, often containing concentrations of metals and chemicals, sometimes get into seawater and harm organisms. Pesticides (insect killers) and herbicides (weed killers) used in farming reach the ocean as runoff. Crop fertilizers and human sewage create a different kind of problem. They fertilize the water. This causes some types of plant plankton to reproduce very rapidly. When these plants die, they’re decomposed by huge numbers of bacteria. The problem is that the bacteria use up much of the oxygen in the water during respiration. Therefore, other organisms such as fish can’t get the oxygen they need, and they die.


Pesticides (insect killers)

Herbicides (weed killers)

Crop fertilizer

Human sewage

Industrial wastes

(metals, chemicals)

Ocean Pollution

Rapid growth

of plankton

Plankton die

Feed bacteria

Consume oxygen

Harm Organisms

Fish die


Cause & Effect: Your Turn

The earth’s climate has cooled and warmed naturally with irregular fluctuations over millions of years. However, man’s activities are contributing to climatic changes. As a result of man’s activities during the industrial and nuclear ages, the rate of climatic change is predicted to increase dramatically.


Hierarchy : Example

  • According to Maslow, peoples' lower needs must be met in order for the higher needs to be met. First physiological needs must be met, then safety needs, then social needs, then esteem needs, and then the need for self-actualization.



Esteem needs

Social needs

Safety needs

Physiological needs


Hierarchy: Your Turn

According to the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990, pollution should be prevented or reduced at the source whenever feasible. However, pollution that cannot be prevented or reduced should be recycled in an environmentally safe manner whenever feasible. For the pollution that cannot be prevented or recycled, it should be treated in an environmentally safe manner whenever feasible. Disposal or other release into the environment should be employed only as a last resort and should be conducted in an environmentally safe manner.


Chronology : Example

Earth’s history on the geological time scale is divided into four geological eras: Precambrian Era, Paleozoic Era, Mesozoic Era, and Cenozoic Era. The Precambrian Era is the longest era. It lasts about 4 billion years and accounts for 87 percent of Earth’s history. The Paleozoic Era last about 345 million years, and the Mesozoic Era about 160 million years. The Cenozoic Era, the era in which we now, has lasted for only 65 million years.


The Earth’s History

Paleozoic Era (345 million years)

Precambrian Era (4 billion years)

Mesozoic Era (160 million years)

Cenozoic Era (65 million years)


Chronology: Your Turn

  • The Scientists divide the Mesozoic Era into three periods. The oldest period is called the Triassic Period. The middle period is called the Jurassic Period. The youngest period is called the Cretaceous Period.

Sequence: Example

The life-history of the butterfly and fly is made up of four stages, egg, larva, pupa, and adult. These insects show complete metamorphosis. The larva stage resembles a caterpillar or worm. In the pupa stage, the insect lives in its cocoon. Grasshoppers and dragonflies are examples of insects that go through “incomplete metamorphosis” in which insects show three stages, egg, larva, and adult. In the larva stage the insect looks like a small adult insect.


Complete Metamorphosis

Butterfly & Fly





sequence your turn
Sequence: Your Turn
  • Moon phases are the changing appearances of the moon as seen from Earth. The phases of the moon start firstly with the “New Moon”, secondly the “Waxing Crescent”, thirdly the “First Quarter”, fourthly the “Waxing Gibbous”, fifthly the “Full Moon”, sixthly the “Waning Gibbous”, seventhly the “Third Quarter”, and the last “Waning Crescent” before the next “New Moon” occurs. The complete cycle of the moon’s phases take about 29.5 days.
opposition example
Opposition: Example
  • Among insects we find two suborders, Apterygota and Pterygota. Apterygota includes insects without wings and Pterygota includes those insects with wings.
opposition your turn
Opposition: Your Turn
  • Two endocrine glands, the thyroid and the parathyroid, work together to keep the levels of calcium in the blood at equilibrium. Eating calcium-rich foods causes a high level of blood calcium. This cues the thyroid to release a hormone that causes calcium to be deposed in the bones and to be excreted in urine from the kidneys. On the other hand, a low level of blood calcium stimulates the parathyroid gland to created a hormone that causes bones to partially dissolve and causes the kidneys to conserve calcium, not excrete it.
comparison example
Comparison: Example
  • Human blood is much like sea water. While sea water contains 55% chlorine, blood contains 45% chlorine. Sea water contains 34% sodium, 3% calcium, and 1% potassium. Blood contains 38% sodium, 2% calcium, and 3% potassium.

Human blood is much like sea water. While sea water contains 55% chlorine, blood contains 45% chlorine. Sea water contains 34% sodium, 3% calcium, and 1% potassium. Blood contains 38% sodium, 2% calcium, and 3% potassium.

categories example
Categories: Example
  • There are two kinds of cells in blood: red cells and white cells. Red cells carry food and oxygen, and white cells fight disease.
comparison your turn
Comparison: Your Turn
  • The technology for tidal power is essentially the same as that for river hydroelectric power. With rivers, however, the water flows in only one direction, whereas a tidal plant must be adapted for the two-way movement of sea water.
categories your turn
Categories: Your Turn

There are many types of glaciers. For example:

  • Mountain Glaciersdevelop in high mountainous regions, often flowing out of icefields that span several peaks or even a mountain range. The largest mountain glaciers are found in Arctic Canada, Alaska, the Andes in South America, the Himalayas in Asia, and on Antarctica.
  • Valley Glaciersare commonly originating from mountain glaciers or ice fields, these glaciers spill down valleys, looking much like giant tongues or rivers. Valley glaciers tend to be very long, often flowing down beyond the snow line, sometimes reaching sea level.
  • Cirque Glaciersare named for the bowl-like hollows they occupy, which are called cirques. Typically, they are found high on mountainsides and tend to be wide rather than long.
2 relate what is learned to what is already known
2) Relate What Is Learned to What Is Already Known
  • Create a direct representation
  • Create a visual metaphor
  • Create a visual nonexample and/or example
  • Create a visual mnemonic
direct representation example
Direct Representation: Example
  • Cyme- where the primary axis ends in a flower, further growth being continued by lateral branches which may again end in a flower.
direct representation your turn
Direct Representation: Your Turn
  • The sun is a ball-shaped object made of extremely hot gases. Since it is made only of gases, there are no clear boundaries within it. The outermost layer of the sun’s atmosphere is called the corona. Beneath the corona is the middle layer of the sun’s atmosphere, the chromosphere. The inner layer of the sun’s atmosphere is called the photosphere. The center of the sun is called the core.
visual metaphor example
Visual Metaphor: Example
  • Remember the “tongue” like valley glacier?
  • Spiders have book lungs connected to tracheal tubes. Book lungs work to remove oxygen from air instead of water. Book lungs are series of thin “plates” full of blood vessels that catch and carry oxygen throughout the animal’s body.

Spider’s Book Lung

Catches and Carries Oxygen

visual metaphor your turn
Visual Metaphor: Your Turn
  • Nerve cells have extensions that look like electric wires. The job of nerve cells is to pass messages in the form of chemical impulses from nerve cell to nerve cell throughout the body.
visual nonexample example example
Visual Nonexample/Example: Example
  • Cholesterol exists in food as a dietary lipid. You'll find cholesterol only in animal products, such as meat and dairy foods.

Examples of


Nonexamples of Cholesterol

visual nonexample example your turn
Visual Nonexample/Example: Your Turn
  • Ice insulates. When temperatures dropped in Florida, workers in the orange fields raced into the grove hauling long water hoses! These workers began to spray the trees with water. The water would freeze into ice. The ice would keep the oranges warm!
visual mnemonic example
Visual Mnemonic: Example

Nine Planets

Mars Mercury Neptune

Venus Earth Saturn

Jupiter Pluto Uranus


My Mercury

Very Venus

Educated Earth

Mother Mars

Just Jupiter

Served Saturn

Us Uranus

Nine Neptune

Pizzas Pluto

visual mnemonic your turn
Visual Mnemonic: Your Turn
  • The proper ordering of the biological groupings used in taxonomy.

Kingdom Phylum Class

Order Family Genus Species

3 indicate special characteristics
3) Indicate Special Characteristics

Highlighting special characteristics using:

  • Labels (1,2,3… A.B.C…)
  • Circles or other shapes
  • Asterisks/arrows
  • Color
  • Shading
  • Visual blowup

Highlighting Special Characteristic: Example


3 legs





4 legs



highlighting special characteristic your turn
Highlighting Special Characteristic: Your Turn
  • A grasshopper has pairs of small openings called spiracles that lead to thousands of tracheal tubes. Through the spiracles, air travels into the tracheal tubes, then to all cells of the grasshopper’s body. By using muscles to squeeze its abdomen, the grasshopper forces air out of the tracheal tubes. When it relaxes these muscles, air enters again, repeating the breathing process.
visualize to learn concepts
Visualize to Learn Concepts
  • Show interrelationships among concepts.
  • Make connections with what you already know.
  • Indicate special characteristics of what you are learning.
  • Students should
    • be trained to identify the underlying structure of English text
    • practice visualizing text using both paper and pencil
    • apply their visualization skills for autonomous AND collaborative learning.