Selection Principle: Emphasizing Figure and Ground


The users of my final project will be students from grades 4-12 and adult instructors.  The majority of the students are advanced readers.  This is new to students and is designed to provide an overview of the ports, buttons, and switches that will be used during this unit.  I thought this would be a good design to focus on the concepts of selection principle and figure-ground because there are many parts to The Brain robotic controller that users need to be aware of in order to properly use it for programming.

The original graphic used to point out the different ports, buttons, and switches was a computer-aided design (CAD) image that looked like a real controller (see below).  I decided to create a simple line drawing of the controller to label instead of using the more realistic version.  Lohr (2008) explained that researchers in the 1960s “agreed that realistic visuals often provided extraneous stimuli that detracted from learning.  Simple line drawings were favored because they provided only the essential cues” (p. 100).   I think this line drawing will complement the real controller students will have in-hand while viewing this graphic.  According to Lohr, “one way to address the three c’s (concentrated, concise, and concrete) is to improve figure-ground – a perception principle that explains how the limited information-processing capacity of the human mind forces people to focus on one stimulus at a time rather than several” (p. 102).  I decided to add a CAD generated image of the controller as a reference for students so they would have a visual of what the line drawing represents.  I think that made it more concrete and that the line drawing portion of the graphic adds the component of concentration.

I had a friend look at my design and we discussed the lines and text that are used to point to and label the parts of the controller.  I originally did everything in black, but a suggestion was to make them a different color to keep everything from blending together.  I chose to use the same shade of blue that I have been using throughout my graphics, including the title of this graphic.  I had also originally included the CAD image of each side of the controller that is shown below, but was given the suggestion to remove it because it seemed to busy.  I think that doing so helped to draw more attention to the labeled parts of the controller which made the graphic as a whole more concise.

Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.


*The CAD created graphic of the controller.  I decided to create a line drawing to use in place of this.


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