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Visual thinking as activity in the information enviroment of education
 

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VISUAL THINKING AS ACTIVITY IN THE INFORMATION ENVIROMENT OF EDUCATION
 
Reznik N.

The article has been published in collection of works of the International Practical Conference "North Universities"
Murmansk, MSTU, 1997.

Material is provided for free personal use with the obligatory reference to the authors (according to Art. 1229 Civil Code RF)


           The concept of visual thinking as a special kind of human activity is supposed to be extremely important in finding a sense anologue for an intellectual cognition. Thats why this concept was widely used by philosophers, psychologists and art-critics in their investigations of art-psychology, image perception and creativity.

           At present the idea of productive character of visual thinking is generally accepted. According to V.P.Zinchenko the visual thinking is a human activity pro-ducing the formation of new imagery and creation of new visual forms, possess-ing a certain meaning load and transforming a meaning to visual image. This concept formed the basis for our investigation. Thus the phenomenon of visual thinking is considered to be a psychic mechanism responsible for repeated proc-essing of information received through the vision, constantly renewed and transformed.

           The information enviroment is considered to be a system of means of contacts with the human knowledge. The information enviroment is used for the storage, structurization and presentation of information reflecting the accumulated knowledge and for its transmission, processing and enrichment.

           Two basic aspects characterize visual thinking in the course of education as a human activity. The first aspect is related to forming stable visual images (notion ideas) and aquiring various thinking operations with these images, analogous to such general thinking processes as abstracting, separating the essential from the secondary, structurization, logical reasoning, etc. The second aspect is connected with the study of specific features of visual thinking as an individual system, the use of which in the process of education assumes certain training for the teacher and for the student.

           The second aspect can be briefly outlined in the following way. As is known, the spiritual and intellectual development of a student is the main purpose of the educational process and the developing intellect creates individually developing subsystems of thinking, the variety and richness of which provide a successfull functioning of the whole system of thinking. A lot of experimental data and psychological investigations convince that it is necessary to pay special attention to the specific subsystem of the thinking intended to increase the gualities of visual and sensery perception up to the level of productive thinking activity of real value.

           The main aspect of visual thinking consists of such thinking processes as forming new imagery forms, filling them with wealthy meaning productive transformation of the images for the clarification their inner meaning and the achievement of serious results.

           In the process of education the students are often given rather difficult and idealized material. Naturaley, the students feel the need of materialization of abstraction. Receiving some visual information a student begins creating a visual notions (or new images). Then he can use those images as certain visually defined objects and create new visual images. During this process the meaning of notions and operations with them become visible.

           Any type of educational information can be divided into separate relatively individual parts: familiar material, the same material or unknown material.

           During the study of the material a student selects some familiar items from the information structure and differentiates them according to their similarity and uniformity, and finally he identifies the familiar structural standard related to all the information or to the its separate part. So, the first step of the process of perception and processing of the visual information expressed by symbols may be characterized as an analysis of the information structure.

           The main factors providing the efficiency of this analysis process are the concentration of the students attention on such kind of perception and the specific arrangement of the educational material.

           With the aid of a specific arrangement and design the visual information may be used with the aim of affecting different characteristics of thinking (including the abstract and logical components) in the natural unaffected manner. The visual standards can be used to carry out the second step of visual analysis - to classify the character of the part being analyzed of the theoretical material or of the specific practical task represented in symbols and characters, and based on the above-mentioned, to start creating new visual imagery and forms.

           Looking through the representation (e.g. a formula, a figure, an abstract from a text) a student moves his eyes from one detail to another, compares the details, turns back to the main fragments analyzes separate elements. Obtaining initial information data represented in the vivid form leads to extracting the attributes of an object forming its primary image.

           The search is renewed and the student proceeds to the verification and detailing of invariants. He integrates them into systems and compares the visual combinations with some integrated image (or standard). The identification of a standard situation is carried out both by the setting of the problem and by the scheme of from specialization - to integration. As a result of the performed work the student obtains (or reveals) an additional new information. Besides, he verifies the invariants again, estimates the similarity and contrast range of elements, various anomalies relative to primaryly stydied episode and other morphological features. All the time the student has to deside whether the information is sufficient for the achievement of the purpose. He has to sort out the information, putting an excessive information aside, to verify and to correct the essential information. The important parts of the educational material are finally fixed in the students memory forming the meaningful (guiding) imagery (indicators). Thus the whole visual perception may be regarded as an involuntary self-education developing the skills of search and identifying (or classifying) the features of visual information.

           Repetition of certain steps and iterative improvement of skills of the visual activity are constantly aimed at recognizing and forming an integrated system corresponding to the problem set. In case of neccessity that kind of system can be recovered easily, and will start working even if considerable time has gone. For example the instruction in mathematics is closely linked with the specific materialization of mathematical objects and their relationship. Any phrase disclosing the content of a theoretical statement can be fixed in the form of facts (signs, schemes or figures) or, in other words, with the aid of material subjects representing the mathematical objects (their characteristics and interrelationship). It is just these facts that are used for the perception, understanding and processing of information.

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