Understanding Figures, Tables, Graphs, and Charts

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, it should be given that much of your time,” says Edward Tufte. Biology professor Amy Wiles says it was what got her started thinking about the importance of visual representations in her field: “Students needs to be visually literate just as they need to be verbally literate, but skills required to develop visual literacy are often overlooked in undergraduate education” (p. 336). Instructors, used to seeing how data are organized in tables and graphs and comfortable with diagrams that visually represent relationships, don't stop to think how unfamiliar those may look to students. We should ask ourselves, how much instructional time is devoted to helping students make sense of these ways of communicating content?

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