Color vision, object size, span of recognition and the ability to extract meaning from visual information seem to be important visual skills used in acquiring knowledge. Few studies concentrate on these visual abilities and their relationship to achievement. Vision intuitively is related to achievement. The conditions under which the relationships exist remain enigmatic.
This research was an experimental evaluation of selected visual skills and their relationships to intellectual skills at different learning levels. The visual skills were evaluated in terms of their relationship to achievement at the different levels. Results are presented, discussed and evaluated for their implications to instructional design.
There have been numerous studies of vision as an independent sensory mechanism, as an important link in the perceptual systems and as a key determinant in the internalization of information that is external to the student (Bing, 1971). While many investigations sought to establish the relationship between vision and other cognitive processes, few studies have explored the relationship and/or association among specific visual skills and specified levels of intellectual skills (Whyte, 1984). Visual communication with the perceptual world through visible language such as signs has been reviewed (Hoffman, 1973).
Among the studies that did specify selected visual skills and other cognitive functions there were such diverse visual skills selected that comparisons among the studies was difficult. Gold (1986) investigated the visual skills that were part of the Individual Reading Readiness Inventory. Those visual skills included the following: (a) discrimination of different geometric shapes; (b) discrimination of alphabet lefters; (c) discrimination of words with different placement of letter sequences.
Bristow (1992) enumerated a battery of tests that were performed on individuals with low reading abilities. Among the skills that were tested were distance and near visual acuity, stereopsis, eye tracking, color vision and near and far fusion.
Vodnoy (1976) pointed to stereopsis and binocular vision as being important in vision testing. Vaughn's study (1980) discussed fixation, accommodation, visual tracing and visual memory. One of Vaughn's purposes was to investigate the relationship between achievement in reading and the vision skills.
The need for research and careful study of the part vision plays in learning has not diminished despite the multiplicity of reports, case histories, studies and research investigations that directly concern vision and visual perception (Getman, 1985; Bing, 1971). The particular importance of vision in adult education also has been addressed. Instances of vision screening failure rates for adult learners were reported as high as 66% and 79% (Bristow, 1992).
The dependence upon vision and visual presentations in education continues to expand in the classroom presentation of information, the use of visuals in strategies for reinforcement and motivation and in the design of systems of instruction (Dwyer, 1987). Levels of learning that are affected by visual strategies have been identified, evaluated, and continue to be examined (Dwyer, 1978, Kleinman, 1997).
Research already has established that some of the visual skills, namely color vision and clarity of sight, directly influence learning and achievement (Bourgeault, 1964; Dwyer, 1978). Many studies of the effectivity of the presentation of color strategies on learning did not review how (or if) the subjects were tested for color perception prior to the study.
The level of color perception in subjects might be an important source of variation that could influence the use of color strategies in acquiring visual information. Moreover the lighting under which color visual skills are evaluated will cause major changes in how colors are perceived (Kleinman, E., Moore, M. & Dwyer, F., 1997).
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
There is considerable research and literature indicating that visual skills seem to play a significant role in information acquisition. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of specific visual skills in facilitating this information acquisition.
Specifically, this research study focused on the following questions: (a) are specific visual skills related to academic achievement? (b) does the possession of specific visual skills facilitate achievement? (c) does the possession of specific visual skills facilitate the achievement of different levels of educational objectives equally well? (d) can color be confirmed as an important instructional variable for facilitating achievement of different types of learning objectives.
METHODS AND PROCEDURES
The sample population consisted of 82 undergraduate students. The instructional content used in the study was an 1800-word instructional module describing the human heart. The description included the parts of the heart, their location, function and the internal processes that occur during the systolic and diastolic phases of the heart's operation. In addition, the instructional modules were divided into two categories: (a) those that had color enhanced visuals; and (b) those modules that had black and white enhanced visuals.
Upon entering the experimental environment, participants were given anonymous identification numbers. Participants were asked to record anonymously their Grade Point Averages, which were used subsequently in the …