Visual Tools


              Constructing Knowledge

                         This page is to support students' review
                         and understanding of David Hyerle's
                         book by this title. It provides an outline
                         and general comments.

    David Hyerle's web site
Presumptions upon which Hyerle bases his thesis
   The brain works by making patterns.
   We are capable of visualizing this process with schema.
   Three themes or theories on which books is based:
   constructivisim -- the idea that each of us constructs
                                 knowledge in unique ways, based
                                 upon prior knowledge and experience.
  A variety of types and uses of visual tools have been
  found to be successful in assisting students in learning
  new information.
 Visual tools can, and should, be integrated into teaching,
  learning and assessing.
Based on the ideas of Jerome Bruner concerning
what makes us human
1.    Metacognition --  humans are the only beings
       that are capable of thinking about their own thinking
       processes.  Visual tools are forms of metacognition.

          2.    Constructing Abstractions -- humans have the
                 capacity to synopisize massive amounts of  information
                 and shape raw data into workable patterns.

          3.    Storing Information Outside the Body -- The
                 archives of the mind are limited and the amount of
                 information is increasing, students will need
                 to learn strategies of harvesting, storing, cataloging,
                 retrieving, interpreting,  and communicating vast
                 amounts of information among locations beyond
                 the brain.

         4.    Systems Thinking -- Humans can see parts in relation
                to whole and thus see patterns, congruencies and

         5.    Problem Finding -- As far as we know, humans are
                the only form of life that actually enjoys the search for
                problems to solve.

                However, we also have a passion for doubting the status
                quo, thereby sensing ambiguities and detecting anomalies.
                Humans also are compelled to propose alternative ways
                to solve problems and answer questions.  Processing data,
                looking for sequence, alternative routes or pathways is
                one of the highest forms of learning and a strong base
                for curriculum change.

        6.    Reciprocal Learning -- Humans learn best in groups.
               Intelligence is shaped through interaction. Visual tools
               furnish ways for humans to share ideas.

        7.    Inventing --  Human beings are by nature creative.
               Creative people take risks, i.e., they generate novel,
               clever, ingenious solutions to problems.  They need
               ways to illustrate those to others in concise fashion.

        8.    Deriving Meaning from Experience -- Thomas
               Edison said he never made a mistake; he learned from
               experience.  A major outcome of any school wishing
               to prepare autonomous human beings, is to
               develop students' capacity for continuous self-analysis
               and self-modification.

        9.    Altering Response Patterns -- Deliberating
               employing mapping tools causes us to restrain our
               impulsivity, to suspend our judgments, to generate
               and consider alternatives, and to attend empathetically
               to others' perspectives.  Fully functioning humans
               engage in continuous learning.

Introduction:  The Forest and the Trees
1.   Can be used effectively by students 
       to organize data.
2.   Can be used by teachers to plan 
3.   Facilitates building of concepts and 
      organizing inquiry.
4.   Facilitate processing brainstorming.
5.   Person developing them gives them 
Graphic Organizers
1.  Sometimes called "advanced 
2.  Graphic tool used by student to 
     retrieve, absorb new data.
3.  Prepared ahead by teachers using 
     draw programs or tools like 
Thinking Process Maps
1.  Designed to facilitate thinking 
     through problems.
2.  Can lead to reconceptualization

Chapter 1

Why Visual Tools Now?

  • Gives students tools to accomplish tasks without 
  •     teacher direction
  • Manages quantity of data
  • Teachers say
    • learning in a constructivist paradigm
    • visual designs guide the flow of information 
    •     in many real-world scenarios
    • student-centered learning is the order of the day
  • Map metaphor
    • maps are primary guides in our lives
    • maps provide connections between ideas and concepts
    • provide a "bird's eye view" of relationships
  • Wandersee's research -- map making
    • challenges one's assumptions
    • facilitates recognizing new patterns
    • facilitates making new connections
    • helps us visualize the unknown
Constructivist - Cognitive Revolution
  • Piaget
    • initiated the term constructivisim
    • cognitive development
  • Other researchers
    • Vygotsky
      • zone of proximal development
    • Bloom
      • taxonomy of cognitive acquisition
    • Taba
      • questioning
    • Gardner
      • cognitive science
    • Dewey
      • student should be interactive learners
  • Based on the idea that we need to see the whole before we can understand the parts, i.e., build concepts, get the big picture

                 Today's students spend more time
           in front of a television or computer screen
                        than in a classroom.

Why students need to learn to use visual tools--
  1. Students are asked to take a bigger responsibility for their acquisition of knowledge
  2. Collaborative strategies support successful group interaction
  3. Work becomes collaborative
  4. Students will change jobs and need the capacity to organize new information, solve problems in groups and use interpersonal skills.

University of West Georgia