Title page for ETD etd-05192003-110024

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Brizee, Allen
Author's Email Address hbrizee@vt.edu
URN etd-05192003-110024
Title Teaching Visual Literacy and Document Design in First-Year Composition
Degree Master of Arts
Department English
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Brumberger, Eva R. Committee Chair
Heilker, Paul V. Committee Member
Sewell, Edward H. Jr. Committee Member
  • first-year composition
  • writing
  • visual literacy
  • rhetoric
  • document design
Date of Defense 2003-03-31
Availability unrestricted
Given our ability to communicate quickly and effectively through visuals such as signs and pictures, it is not surprising that graphical messages now permeate our technology-oriented culture. Magazines, television, and computers integrate text and graphics to convey information. As teachers of writing, we need to study and understand these visually enhanced texts, because they have become the standard for communication in our society. Beyond this, we should learn how to teach students about visual literacy and document design so that they can effectively interpret these visually enhanced texts and create documents that use visuals and words together; this will also prepare students for college writing and workplace writing.

Naturally, there exists some uncertainty surrounding the inclusion of these ideas in first-year composition. First-year writing is already difficult to teach because colleges expect us to foster critical reading, critical thinking, and critical writing skills in students from a wide variety of disciplines. Compounding these challenges are large class sizes and shrinking budgets. However, many scholars assert that visual thinking is an essential part of the learning process and must be included in writing courses. Specifically, some scholars suggest that we should integrate visual literacy and document design into first-year composition courses to help students create effective documents for college and the workplace. This thesis explores the scholarship surrounding visual literacy, document design, and professional writing in first-year composition. The project underscores the importance of using students’ visual thinking processes to help them organize and present information in college writing and beyond.

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