Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Education Honours


School of Education


Western Australian College of Advanced Education

First Advisor

Mr A. Monk


In an education, the term visual literacy refers to the ability of a student to interpret or decode various forms of representation. A person who is literate is able to read and write text, while a visually literate person is able to decode visual an images, and to a lesser extent use these skills in the creation of artworks. Art syllabuses in Western Australia clearly state desired outcomes in the area of visual literacy, yet little is known about how effective these guide-lines have been in producing school leavers who are visually literate. The effectiveness of secondary an teaching strategies in the implementation of syllabus guide-lines, and the ability of students to apply visual literacy skills, forms part of the conceptual basis of this study. This introductory pilot study investigated the performance of a group of first year tertiary students on tests of visual literacy, and the extent to which previous secondary school an experience and an vocabulary are related to the ability to decode images. A test of visual literacy was used, in the form of interviews, which involved a comparison between a representational and non-representational image. A test of art vocabulary in the form of an objective test, was also administered to all students. The methodology of this pilot study sought to determine the extent to which the subjects were able to apply existing knowledge to the interpretations of artworks. The relationship between artistic ability and visual literacy has not been considered in this study. It was found that there was a range of visual literacy scores, and that the level of visual literacy possessed by this group of first year tertiary students was related to secondary school an experience but no conclusive relationship was fanned between visual literacy and an vocabulary. In light of this, a number of recommendations for further study have been made, with a primary focus on determining the extent to which an education does influence visual literacy; developing an courses which will maximise this effect; and investigating the relationship of visual literacy to artistic ability.

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Art Education Commons