The 2002-2003 CILA Associates
Matt Rohn, Associate Professor (Art and Art History)
Text and Image Literacy
My research explores the need for visual literacy among non-art, college and university students, and seeks to develop practical means for meeting this need. Visual information now commonly produced by students includes charts, graphs, illustrations as well as longer narrative-like poster and PowerPoint presentations, and websites. Professors may comment extensively on a student’s text-based narratives and request additional drafts, but will rarely if ever comment on visual material except to make points about its explicit content (e.g., the data in a graph but not the accuracy or intelligent transmission of that data produced through the visual nature of the graph). Students are left to discover their own approaches to developing visual information. Frequently they look to the most seductive modes of visualization they find in computer programs, advertising, etc.
I have begun to assemble and read in two areas. One area encompasses theoretical writings about the importance of visual information in the computer-age’ and the tension that exists between proponents of visual thinking and those who have for thousands of years denigrated visual thinking relative to texts. The other major area centers on compiling practical ideas instructors can use to help students with visual thinking.
During the spring semester, I will use an Environmental Studies course I am teaching to explore some techniques for systematically helping students develop their visual thinking skills. I will draft an article this coming summer documenting my work.
Dan Hofrenning, Associate Professor (Political Science)
“Technology and Teaching, Technology and Politics”
My project involves exploring the use of technology for teaching American Politics, and developing a number of web-based resources for use in my classes. I am working to create a situation in which students use the Internet to do original research. Observers and scholars often contend that the Internet has transformed politics, yet there are not many tests of this hypothesis. One result is that there have been only limited explorations of how to help students explore this phenomenon. I am reviewing the literature on technology and politics and will explore further the ways in which lobbyists and interest groups have used the web to mobilize citizens. During the fall semester, I explored some of these ideas in my course, Political Science 255, “Parties and Elections,” for which students were able to access the growing amount of online campaign finance data and to do some basic social science research concerning the influence of money in campaigns and legislative decision-making. This spring, building on what I learned during the fall, I structured my seminar in American Politics so that students will use Internet resources to undertake research projects on the effects of that medium on contemporary politics.