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VISUAL THINKING STRATEGIES. Jessica Gaston. WHATS GOING ON IN THIS PICTURE?. WHAT IS IT?. Method of learning for students that uses art as a catalyst for discussion. Increases: critical thinking skills Visual literacy Language skills (Visual Thinking Strategies). WHAT IS IT?. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation




  • WHAT IS IT?Method of learning for students that uses art as a catalyst for discussion.Increases: critical thinking skillsVisual literacyLanguage skills(Visual Thinking Strategies)

  • WHAT IS IT?Teachers use artworks and imagery to start a dialogue.Teachers facilitate discussion amongst students being neutral and unbiased.Students lead discussions.VTS fosters a respectful, safe environment to express opinions and ideas.(Smith, 2008)

  • RESEARCHCreated and researched by Abigail Housen and Phillip YenawineBegan research in 1988(Thompson)

  • RESEARCHAesthetic Development Interview (ADI) utilized to study over 4,000 subjectsSubject is shown various artworksInterviewer does not ask guiding questions, only invites subject to talkInterview is recorded, then dissected, then categorized into domains- Secondary information like portfolios and journals also used(Visual Thinking Strategies)

  • WHY ART?Art's subjects cover age-old stories often addressing universal human concerns and conditions.

    Art's subjects transcend economic and cultural boundaries.

    Art is intentionally ambiguous, open to a variety of interpretations.

    Feelings are embedded in art along with information, triggering a full range of expression from those who look at it thoughtfully.

    Layers of meaning, symbols and metaphor encourage probing and reflecting in young people, as they do in adults.(Visual Thinking Strategies)

  • 5 STAGES - STAGE THEORYStage 1 - AccountiveStage 2 - ConstructiveStage 3 - ClassifyingStage 4 - InterpretiveStage 5 - Re-Creative

  • CLASSROOM IMPLEMENTATIONTeachers ask three questions: What's going on in this picture? What do you see that makes you say that? What more can we find?(Visual Thinking Strategies)

  • CLASSROOM IMPLEMENTATIONTeachers use three techniques while students discuss: 1) Paraphrase2) Connect3) Focus(Visual Thinking Strategies)

  • CLASSROOM IMPLEMENTATION Students will: 1) Observe2) Discuss3) Defend4) Listen5) Accept diverse viewpoints(Visual Thinking Strategies)


    Kang-O'Higgins, Y. (Performer) (2012). Visual thinking strategies public seminar [Web]. Retrieved from

    Robertson, K. (2006). Visual thinking strategies for improved comprehension. Retrieved from

    Smith, F. (2008, October 08). The eyes have it: Potent visuals promote academic richness. Retrieved from

    Thompson, J. (n.d.). Visual thinking strategies. Retrieved from

    Visual thinking strategies. (n.d.). Retrieved from

    Just did VTS!The Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) teaching method and school curriculum centers on open-ended yet highly-structured discussions of visual art, significantly increasing students' critical thinking, language and literacy skills along the way. Teacher Audrey Morton Miller expressed that VTS is an exciting way to get students talking, observing, making inferences, and backing them up. And it's had a big effect on me as a teacher. I've gone from being the expert, the one who always has the knowledge, to being more of a facilitatorHousens rationale for using art as the vehicle for learning and discussionAs a part of her research, Housen described 5 stages apparent through the ADIsIn the 1970s, Abigail Housen's research demonstrated that viewers understand works of art in predictable patterns called stages. She found that when asked viewers talk in a stream-of-consciousness monologue about an image, and every idea, association, pause, and observation is transcribed and analyzed, the different stages become apparent.

    Accountive - observation, narrative, judgments are based on what is known and what is liked, emotions ruleConstructive - build framework for viewing art, judgment and value often based on realismClassifying - associate work to facts, history, etc. look at it like an art historianInterpretive - critical skills are put in the service of feelings and intuitions as these viewers let underlying meanings of the work what it symbolizes emerge.Re-Creative - willingly suspend belief, treat art as an old friend but allow it to still surprise with new thoughts/ideasPara - neutralConnect - link/framing other students commentsFocus - point out the larger picture observe - Look carefully at works of art discuss - Talk about what they observe defend - Back up their ideas with evidence listen - Listen to and consider the views of others accept - Discuss many possible interpretations