Universidade Portucalense – Infante D. Henrique

Universidade Portucalense Infante D. Henrique is a cooperative higher education and scientific research establishment

The influence of visual environments on learning


Pedro Rodrigues, Researcher at Portucalense Institute for Human Development, presents the project “VisEnLearn” which aims to “explore the influence of (ir)relevant visual environments on the learning of school children”.

School-age children are continuously exposed to classrooms with several visual elements, such as drawings, maps and graphs, placed on the wall, which aim to stimulate learning.

In this context, the central question of this line of research is: “What is the influence of visual content exposed in the surrounding environment of the classroom on children’s learning gains, specifically when this content is related versus unrelated to the information to be learned?

“Exposure to visual materials in the surrounding environment, particularly in school-age children, may compete for cognitive resources, namely attentional, but this is still an assumption that needs scientific evidence, to which this line of research aims to contribute”, says Pedro Rodrigues.

The researcher indicates that this line differs from other studies in several aspects, in that, “besides comparing the performance between a non-decorated and a decorated environment, it also manipulates the characteristics of the information presented. In addition, the participants’ learning of the taught information will be tested immediately and one week later”. 

“This is an important aspect, since some learning strategies may not have immediate effects, but are rather explained by the testing effect. Finally, our manipulations will be implemented in real classrooms and not in a laboratory, as happened in the work of Fisher and collaborators (2014), or on a platform as in Rodrigues and Pandeirada (2018),” he explains.

This line of research could provide important results for educational practices, being a starting point for other new studies to find an ideal point of visual communication in classrooms.


The influence of visual environments on learning
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