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More Than A Pretty Picture: Visual Literacy: Home

This guide will enable an individual to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, use, and create images and visual media.

Visual Literacy in Practice

The inspiration for this guide comes from the 2019 article Visual Literacy in Practice: Use of Images in Students' Academic Work by  Krystyna K. Matsuak, Chelsea Heinbach, Anna Harpers, and Michael Bovee. They wanted to examine how undergraduate and graduate students were using their visual literacy skills, if any, in their academic endeavors. They found, mainly due to lack of formal knowledge and overall traditional collegiate climate, the use of images in various projects was limiting or rarely considered. Overtime, our hope is that through this guide, students, faculty, and other education professionals will feel encouraged to incorporate visual literacy practices into their work, ultimately enhancing the learning experience. 

African and African American Studies Librarian

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Narcissa Haskins
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Undergraduate & Student Success Librarian

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Sarah Simms

What is Visual Literacy

According to ACRL Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education visual literacy is defined below:  

Visual literacy is a set of abilities that enables an individual to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, use, and create images and visual media. Visual literacy skills equip a learner to understand and analyze the contextual, cultural, ethical, aesthetic, intellectual, and technical components involved in the production and use of visual materials. A visually literate individual is both a critical consumer of visual media and a competent contributor to a body of shared knowledge and culture.

In an interdisciplinary, higher education environment, a visually literate individual is able to:

  • Determine the nature and extent of the visual materials needed
  • Find and access needed images and visual media effectively and efficiently
  • Interpret and analyze the meanings of images and visual media
  • Evaluate images and their sources
  • Use images and visual media effectively
  • Design and create meaningful images and visual media
  • Understand many of the ethical, legal, social, and economic issues surrounding the creation and use of images and visual media, and access and use visual materials ethically

Visual Literacy Meaning and Explanation

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