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Visual Reasoning

Visual reasoning is the ability to analyze, process and mentally manipulate visual information to solve problems. Visual reasoning is key in school settings and is also important in many real-life situations. Interpreting information found in graphs, charts, and maps requires a combination of verbal, mathematical, and visual analysis.

In a testing situation, students are often asked to identify and manipulate visual objects. To answer these types of questions correctly they are required to identify and manipulate visual patterns. For example, students may be shown a set of shapes and asked to identify what shapes should come next in the pattern. To solve this type of problem written language isn’t needed, but students must use both visual and spatial skills.

Spatial thinking is part of visual reasoning and requires a student to understand the position of objects, their shapes, and to remember the relative locations of objects in their mind. Students are required to imagine or visualize how objects are manipulated through mental movement to form new spatial relations.

Visual-spatial skills are also used in day-to-day functioning and many jobs and career paths require these skills and a good visual memory. A task as simple as packing luggage for a vacation requires a person to visualize how to place items in a suitcase to maximize the storage capacity, this process requires spatial thinking.

Students have diverse ways of thinking and processing information. Some are verbal thinkers because they think in words. They usually prefer to share explanations about pictures and diagrams through verbal and written expression. Other students are visual thinkers and they think about subject matters using visual representation.

Student that are visual spatial learners have a head start in spatial thinking however, everyone can improve because visual reasoning because it is not a fixed ability. Here are some suggestions to help students improve their visual reasoning skills:

  1. Pay attention to visual information and imagery. Visualization helps students mentally represent an object that is not physically present. This is an important skill in spatial reasoning and problem solving.

  2. Make a conscious effort to interpret and process visual information.

  3. Use strong verbal skills to talk through visual pattern problems.

  4. Encourage students to make connections between spatial relations and objects around them. Using spatial terms helps them to perform better in spatial reasoning tasks. Begin this process early in a child’s life by simply asking, “Is the candy inside or outside of the wrapper?”

  5. Use gestures to enhance the learning of spatial relations. Gestures can be a powerful teaching and communication tool because combing gestures and speech helps students learn better. Gesture is closely linked to spatial thinking and encourages students to focus on spatial information in speech.

  6. Introduce games that increase kids’ spatial ability like jigsaw puzzles, Tangram (Chinese puzzles consisting of 7 pieces), and building blocks.

Visual reasoning helps students solve problems by analyzing, processing and manipulating visual information. Mentally remembering the relative location of objects and patterns helps students solve problems. Providing kids, the opportunity to enhance their spatial skills is critical in school and assists them to successfully navigate day-to-day functions.

About the Author

Author, National Speaker/Trainer, Academic Therapist

Vikki empowers people! She is an author, national speaker, corporate trainer, and an Academic Therapist. Vikki grew up in Salt Lake City, met her husband at the University of Utah, and has owned several companies across the United States. In 2010, Vikki and her husband moved back to Utah, and she founded Vikki Carrel & Company, a speaking and training organization. While living in the East, Vikki was an Academic Therapist in the Central Bucks School District for several years. She received specialized training in teaching and implementing educational strategies to help students who perform below bench mark in reading and writing. Her strength is working with children that have ADHD, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and other learning disabilities. Vikki is the author of Switching Lanes, Puzzle Pieces and co-author of Chloe’s Closet. As a co-founder of Two Balance, Inc. and Mother Daughter America she has empowered teens, collegians, and adults for over two decades. Vikki continues to draw from her impressive 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur, working in non-profit leadership and education to teach strategies that help individuals with resistance to change, the power of perception, reducing stress, increasing personal productivity and impression management. Vikki holds a degree in Business Administration/Marketing. She and her husband have two grown sons and a daughter in law.

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