A brief visual argument in favor of visual argumentation

A brief visual argument in favor of visual argumentation

Science confirms common sense

Jury pools may be diverse, but most jurors are familiar with sophisticated graphics, such as those commonly found in broadcasts, web sites, and smart phone interfaces. Jurors are also likely to expect trial attorneys to present sophisticated graphics, because the media creates that expectation.

Jurors have these experiences and expectations because a combination of words and images – what political scientist Robert Horn calls “visual language” – is a highly effective way to present complex information. According to Mr. Horn, visual language is persuasive, promotes group consensus, and aids in decision making. See Horn, Robert, Visual Language: Global Communication for the 21st Century, MacroVU 1998, p. 234. Horn bases his assertions on experiments conducted by cognitive psychologist John Sweller and his colleagues. Sweller found that compared to text alone, integrated text and diagrams produced better problem solving, and higher test scores in less time. Visual Language at p. 233; See also Ruth Clark, Frank Nguyen, and John Sweller, Efficiency in Learning: Evidence-Based Guidelines to Manage Cognitive Load, Pfeiffer 2006, pp. 50-61.

According to Efficiency in Learning, “There are solid research and psychological reasons for recommending that you. . . add explanatory diagrams to words when the goal is to help learners build a deep understanding.” (Efficiency at 73).
The research supporting this assertion was conducted by R.E. Mayer in 2001-2002:

“Mayer (2001, 2002) has conducted a number of experiments using lessons that taught how something worked. For example, he has developed lessons designed to teach how a bicycle pump works, how lightning works, and how hydraulic brakes work. In these studies two lesson versions were tested. One included the same text but added an illustration of the process. . .

After a study period, learners were asked to apply this new knowledge to problems that were not discussed during the lesson. . .

In six different experiments, learners who studied from lessons that added a diagram to the text created a median of 79 percent more solutions to questions like these than those who studied from text alone.” (Efficiency at 59.)

There are “solid research and psychological reasons” for integrating text and graphics. (Id. at 102).

“Tindall-Ford, Chandler, and Sweller (1997) compared learning how to conduct electrical tests on appliances from three different print-based versions. In the traditional version, descriptive text steps were displayed under the diagram. . . In the integrated version, steps were placed next to the relevant portion of the diagram. . . A third version used an audiovisual format in which the diagram was described by words presented in audio narration. Trade school apprentices studied the materials and them were tested performing hands-on equipment tests without reference to instructional materials. . . those using either the integrated or audio versions learned about twice as much as those using the traditional format.”

(Efficiency at 86-88.)

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