Definition of Theory

  • Learners acquire and store knowledge in two primary ways: linguistic (by reading or hearing lectures), and nonlinguistic (through visual imagery, kinesthetic or whole-body modes, and so forth). The more students use both systems of representing knowledge, the better they are able to think about and recall what they have learned (Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock, 2001).
  • Visual representations help students recognize how related topics connect (NCTM, 2000).
  • Finding patterns helps students organize their ideas so that they can later recall and apply what they have learned. Research has shown an increase in understanding of geometry when students learn to represent and visualize three-dimensional forms (Bransford et al., 1999; Lehrer & Chazen, 1998).
  • After brainstorming to generate ideas, students can improve their reading, writing, and thinking skills by using thinking maps to help them organize key concepts in a visual way (Hyerle, 1996).
  • Using visual representation software in a science classroom helps students express their developing understanding of core chemistry concepts in the form of visual representations that are readily created and shared. These representations help students generate explanations of the phenomena they are investigating. (Michalchik, V., Rosenquist, A., Kozma, R., Kreikemeier, P., Schank, P., & Coppola, B., in press).

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Power point presentation on non-linguistic representations: includes rationale and classroom applications.

Non-linguistic Overview (pdf version)