Learners differ in the ways that they perceive and comprehend information that is presented to them. For example, those with sensory disabilities (e.g., blindness or deafness); learning disabilities (e.g., dyslexia); language or cultural differences, and so forth may all require different ways of approaching content. Others may simply grasp information quicker or more efficiently through visual or auditory means rather than printed text. Also learning, and transfer of learning, occurs when multiple representations are used, because it allows students to make connections within, as well as between, concepts. In short, there is not one means of representation that will be optimal for all learners; providing options for representation is essential. For greater detail, please refer to the CAST UDL Guidelines on Representation.
What: Graphic Organizers (GOs) are visual representations of knowledge, concepts, thoughts, or ideas. GOs entered the realm of education in the late twentieth century as ways of helping students to organize their thoughts (as a sort of pre-writing exercise). For example, a student is asked, "What were the causes of the French Revolution?" The student places the question in the middle of a sheet of paper. Branching off of this, the student jots down her ideas, such as "poor harvests," "unfairness of the Old Regime," etc. Branching off of these are more of the student's thoughts, such as "the nobles paid no taxes" branching from "unfairness of the Old Regime."
Why Positive effects on higher order knowledge but not on facts (Robinson & Kiewra, 1995); Quiz scores higher using partially complete GO (Robinson et al., 2006). In addition, GOs have been known to help:
· relieve learner boredom
· provide motivation
· create interest
· clarify information
· assist in organizing thoughts
· promote understanding
1. Provide completed GO to students (Learn by viewing)
2. Students construct their own GO (Learn by doing)
3. Students finalize partially complete GO (scaffolding)