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Instructional Design & Support

Benefits of Effective Visual Design

Finding the time and energy to improve an existing course can be difficult. If you take steps to incorporate more visual design strategies in your course materials, what benefits can you expect?

  • Studies show that visual cues benefit students by improving their ability to remember and retrieve information. These visual cues can include photos, illustrations, charts and graphics, icons, and other visual representations.
  • In one study, students who generated mechanical or chemical illustrations as part of a text-based assignment demonstrated greater completeness, coherence, and understanding of the material than those who generated text alone. The researchers believe the same benefits will be seen in fields like the social sciences, history, and archeology.
  • When students consider a font difficult to read, they assume that the entire task will be frustrating or difficult, and report less willingness to take that task on as a daily habit. Alternatively, when they find a font easier to read, they assume the task will be more manageable and are more accepting of doing the task in the future.
  • Graphics can be used to increase student engagement by prompting discussions on why the graphic is included, what it adds to the learning, and what other interpretations may be possible.

All in all, taking an intentional strategy toward improving the visual design aspects of your course – photos, illustrations, fonts, charts, and so on – can create a tremendous learning boost for your students.

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