Selection and Figure-Spacing

This was this week’s assignment:

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I keep looking through my first EdTech 506 assignment, where I made a template of instruction for all the graphics I needed to make for this class, and I keep coming to the same conclusion—it’s hard to design graphics for a very verbal, abstract subject as English is. For this week’s assignment over figure-grounding, I perceived one of the major keys was to keep things simple and not let the background or image itself get in the way of the material. The below image is my attempt to make that happen.


Who are my users and what assumptions do I make about them?

Just like the last few weeks, I would be presenting this resource to my own students, so it’s a group that I am intimately familiar with. My students in this class would be sophomores, between the ages of 13 and 17, with medium-low to medium English writing, reading & grammar skills. They should have a basic understanding of the parts of speech in English, as they would have been taught parts of speech at least once, in their freshman year, but most likely, they’ve forgotten the names and roles of the different parts of speech and are “due” for a reminder.

Why do you think your solution will work?

When we talk about figure-grounding, it is “simply the act of making the most important information stand out. When you do this, you help the learner focus on what is critical… By eliminating some of the information that learners immediately pay attention to, you reduce their cognitive load, or the demands placed on their short-term memory.” (Lohr pg 102) There were a lot more things that I wanted to add in, but I felt like I stripped down grammar down to its easiest elements to get a good product out there.

I loved what I read on page 111 about how “Images that are larger or seem to advance use dimension to catch the viewer’s attention. White space can direct the eye to what is important.” As I kept working on this project, I kept getting back to the idea of how I could add in more white space. It might mean that I don’t get to put in all the information, just so long as I put in effective information. This has been the big challenge with this week’s work.

What did you learn from a “user-test”?

What makes an image about diagramming sentences tough is that I think there’s an assumption that the image should teach students how to do what they need to do. As I talked to a few of my students (who had never gone over diagramming before), the message I consistently received was “I don’t know what’s going on here.” I was pretty run-down, as it took me a long time to brainstorm exactly what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it.

However, I ended up approaching some of my previous students, who understood the principles of diagramming, and they seemed to think that the image worked as a supplement to my instruction. They referred to it as a “good cheat sheet” and said that they would absolutely keep that in a notebook or in Evernote to access later. However, if it was an image for specifically instructional purposes (as in “Look at this picture—now you know, right?”), the image won’t work well enough. I think, though, that as the way I teach is is to actually teach the ideas first and then give them resources like this later along, this is working for my needs.


I decided to, in an effort to clean things up and bring more white space to the image, get rid of the extra prepositional phrases and adjective/adverb phrases. I think that the image is spaced nicer now and allows one to look at the entire thing without feeling as overwhelmed. What do you think?



Lohr, Linda, L. (2008). Creating Graphics for Learning and Performance, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

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