“Reading” Paintings: Evidence for Trans-Symbolic and Symbol-Specific Comprehension Processes
Art-based reading instruction and interventions for elementary and middle school students are growing in popularity despite scant theoretical rationale and empirical research support. This study explored the degree to which painting comprehension processes map onto text comprehension processes in this population. In particular, we used think aloud protocols to examine the painting comprehension processes used by 35 fourth-grade and 34 eighth-grade students and compared the manifest processes to the literature on text comprehension. Protocol analysis revealed six painting comprehension processes—observing, activating prior knowledge, inferring and interpreting, elaborating, evaluating and responding, and monitoring—comprising 23 subprocesses. Of the identified painting comprehension subprocesses, 17 are commonly associated with text comprehension. These findings suggest that compositions—be they encoded visually, linguistically, or in another symbol system—may entail comprehension processes that transcend symbol systems, as well as processes that are particular to a given symbol system.
Cognition and Instruction
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Loughlin, Grossnickle, E., Dinsmore, D., & Alexander, P. (2015). “Reading” Paintings: Evidence for Trans-Symbolic and Symbol-Specific Comprehension Processes. Cognition and Instruction, 33(3), 257–293. https://doi.org/10.1080/07370008.2015.1076822