Visual Thinking Strategies

What is it?

Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) is a teaching method that improves critical thinking skills through teacher-facilitated discussions of visual images. VTS encourages participation through a group problem-solving process. It uses art to teach thinking, communication skills, and visual literacy. Students contribute to the discussion by presenting their own observations and ideas to the class. All contributions are accepted and considered neutrally by the teacher and class so that students can learn from the perspectives of others.

VTS emphasizes the student learning process, individually and in conjunction with others, rather than the instructor's dissemination of knowledge. Therefore, VTS is learner-driven. places the power in students' control. is process focused not product focused - students are not given a right answer because the process of learning and discussing is the answer. Fosters critical thinking skills.

The Instructor

The role of the instructor in VTS is to carefully select visual images and facilitate the discussion. This is accomplished through questioning and facilitation techniques.

Three questions essential to the strategy:

Three discussion facilitation techniques:

The Student

The role of the students in VTS is to:

Why does it work?

VTS is a rigorous and fun research-based approach with measurable growth in all learners across all areas. VTS is an effective teaching method because it:

Additional Strategies

Visual thinking can also include the organization of ideas graphically with concept maps, mind maps, and webs. In this way, students can work with concepts in a self-directed and hands-on way because it allows students to "see" their ideas as they develop. Using visual thinking through graphics, students can clarify thoughts, organize and analyze information, integrate new knowledge, and think critically.

Best Practices from YouTube

The following YouTube video contains some valuable, practical wisdom related to visual thinking strategies: