Academic journal article Visible Language

The Integration of Text and Image in Media and Its Impact on Reader Interest

Academic journal article Visible Language

The Integration of Text and Image in Media and Its Impact on Reader Interest

Article excerpt


This paper addresses the design of instructional media both holistically and authentically by focusing on text-image relationships at the level of design strategy. The schema used is sensitive to working memory and cognitive load theory. Three text-image integration strategies are proposed and illustrated: prose primary (PP), with a central prose column and marginal imagery; prose subsumed (PS), with shorter prose segmented by imagery; and fully integrated (FI), where smaller textual chunks populate imagery. One hundred and thirty-seven (137) middle school students rated their interest in science textbook pages designed according to the outlined strategies. Interest measures are closely aligned with the situational interest construct in psychology. The subjects' selections favored higher levels of text-image integration, such that FI was rated more interesting than PS, which was in turn more interesting than PP. Results were rated reliable and significant at a 95% confidence level. Comprehension and sense of task difficulty are briefly addressed.


Text-image integration, Design strategy, Page layout, Situational interest, Graphic design, Instructional design, Science instruction


The integrated combination of text and image-in science textbooks, assembly instructions, informational websites, and other media-is often exquisitely complex, requiring highly developed but seemingly automatic faculties for constructing meaning from interconnected parts. Work in psychology has isolated design principles at play in layouts, but much more can be done to understand media in holistic terms, with its complexities intact. This paper addresses complex layout in terms of the implicit strategy that was used to create it. In particular, the focus is on text, image, and their interactions. The integration of text and image in media should impact the reader's approach, or interest level, and subsequent comprehension processes. This paper focuses on the former aspect of reader experience whilst considering the latter. The design of the science textbook (a good example of instructional media that can benefit from imagery) is considered in terms of the degree to which text and image might be integrated.

The literature on text and image in layout is reviewed next and followed with a proposal to evaluate media in terms of the text-image integration strategy employed in its creation. Three types of text-image integration strategy are established: prose primary, prose subsumed, and fully integrated. These strategies were variables in a post-test for the author's doctoral study (Peterson, 2011), which inquired into the interest level of 137 middle school students for instructional media according to the integration of text and image. The description of the post-test is followed by a call for future work and notes on outstanding issues.

The study referenced herein was conducted with oversight from a committee of Meredith Davis (chair), Nilda Cosco, James Minogue, and John Nietfeld, all at North Carolina State University. Rachael Huston Dickens assisted in its execution. The study was approved by both the North Carolina State University Institutional Review Board (IRB#1359) and the Wake County Public School System Research Review Committee. It was conducted in the spring of 2011.


Much of the early literature concerning text and illustration in layout is centered on textbook design, often for science, a field of study requiring frequent visual explanations (illustration and picture are more common terms than image in the literature). While early "transmission" models of learning would suggest a focus on content only, it is long accepted that learners- and so readers-construct knowledge with the resources available to them. A textbook then, is seen in a generative capacity: "In a generative theory of textbook design, learning is viewed as a constructive process in which learners select and build cognitive connections among pieces of knowledge" (Mayer et al. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.