Special issue


In an era in which “all media are mixed media” (Mitchell, 2002), visual information is central in interpersonal and mass communication. Despite this daily consumption of visual information, “digital natives” (Prensky, 2001) are not prepared to critically engage with images (Brumberger, 2016). Scholars in the field of visual literacy identified a curricular bias towards written texts (Elkins, 2007), and the need for more training of visual literacy in higher education (Metros & Woolsey, 2006). However, the discussion of visual literacy in higher education is dominated by studies that measure teaching strategies (Bowen, 2017; Johnston et al. 2017) but rarely discuss the meaning of visual literacy from a student perspective. Visual reflection is a learning experience that involves reading, writing, thinking, and feeling with and through images. This study investigates undergraduate students’ experience with visual reflection in a visual studies class through a phenomenographic approach to 29 visual journals and a thematic analysis of 9 semi-structured interviews with students. The objective is discussing the potential contribution of visual reflection to students’ multimodal literacies. This study contends that the promotion of visual reflection needs to be systematically implemented in all fields engaged in knowledge production as visual reflection enhances academic learning, fosters multimodal literacies, and promotes the visualization of knowledge.

Practitioner Notes

  1. The reading, analysis, evaluation and production of images is fundamental to multimodal literacies.
  2. Visual reflection is a practice that enhances students' understanding of abstract concepts.
  3. Reflective visual journals encourage the practice of visual reflection.
  4. Visual reflection fosters visual thinking, which is necessary for knowledge production.