Identifying needs and stating specific objectives are prerequisites to making decisions about the presentation strategy. The presentation would not require pictures if the specific objective Is: When questioned, students should be able to enumerate the major elements in the water cycle. Words naming the elements might be written on a chalkboard or given to each student on a slip of paper, or the words might be said with students repeating them. The teaching strategy would differ, however, if the objective is: In a test situation, students should be able to draw a diagram of the water cycle that shows the major elements and their relationship to each other. For this objective, illustrations would be needed so students would have a model of what they are supposed to be able to do.
Consider the attitude-change objective given for agriculture on Page 2. This objective states a decision to take farmers to experimental plots to give them first-hand experience with the results of fertilized and non-fertilized plants and their yields.
This visit can be considered the presentation strategy. What will be done during the visit, and what farmers will be encouraged to do at the experimental plots must be planned. Some exhibits might show crop yield from the fertilized and non-fertilized plots. The farmers might be encouraged to examine the plants in each plot or to compare the size and weight of crop yields from the plots. Also questions they ask should be answered to give them assurance that fertilizing is something they can do themselves, is not too time consuming, and, in terms of crop yield, is not very expensive.
The knowledge-need objective, given for agriculture on Page 2, states that a presentation should give farmers information about fertilizers and their uses. To present this information in a group situation, visual materials are needed. If facilities and resources are available to make slides and tape recordings, the medium chosen for this presentation could be a set of slides with a taped narration. As a follow-up of the slide-tape presentation, another first-hand experience should be provided - the opportunity to apply the fertilizer in a near-by field.
Stated objectives also influence whether a single medium will be adequate to present the information, or whether other media will be needed. The stated objectives will help determine whether the information should be given in a single presentation, or whether several presentations will be needed. Consider farmers who know nothing about fertilizers. Their interest must be stimulated; they need information about fertilizers; and they must become skilled in applying them. The stated objectives might be similar to those given on Page 2.
When preparing objectives, the emphasis should be on WHAT is to be accomplished. When selecting the presentation strategy, the emphasis should be on HOW to meet the goal. Can an objective be accomplished in one presentation? If not, how many separate presentations will be needed? How much Information will be presented in each segment? If several sessions are needed, should they be spaced over a period of time or concentrated? What medium will be used in each presentation? Answers to these questions should come from the objectives and a knowledge of the audience's characteristics.
Age level, for instance, is a starting point for determining how many ideas should be presented and how complex these ideas should be. A child cannot assimilate as many ideas in a given span of time as an adult. Ideas must be presented to him with several repetitions of the information and many examples. An adult may not be literate, but he does have experience which enables him to understand complex ideas and to assimilate them quickly.
Education is another factor. For people who have had little or no schooling, who cannot read, and whose experiences have been limited to life within their village, the concepts presented must be in a form they can understand.
HOW to meet the objectives also requires attention to details. A planning check list is helpful. Following is an example for the farmers' visit to experimental plots (agriculture attitude-change objective, Page 2.).
- Transportation available to take farmers to and from experimental plots.
Cultural differences must be considered when planning presentations or instructional materials. Following is a list of problems in visual perception, by no means exhaustive, which may serve as a guide to the kind of things to look for.
- A viewer may not be able to identify the subject of a flat photograph. For example, a father might not recognize a photograph of his own son. Instead, what he perceives is a gray shape on a white background.
- Many cultures, unexposed to the western visual habit of taking in an entire television picture, slide or movie frame, may fail to get the intended message, no matter how obvious. Instead, viewers may focus on one element in the picture before them and miss all other elements in the picture. Marshall McLuhan in The Gutenberg Galaxy cites the example of a film showing sanitation methods to remote tribesmen. In one scene the audience saw only a chicken moving through the background and missed completely seeing the demonstrator, thus missing the intended message.
- In a sequence of drawings or photographs, the viewer may see each illustration as a separate entity without relation to the sequence. Despite such cues as a distinctive shirt pattern, the viewer may not recognize that a man shown in comic-book fashion is the same man from frame to frame. Is it also true of a photo of a man as well as one rendered in comic book fashion? Position within the frame and position of the subject also may affect perception.
- Drawings or photographs made at an unusual angle to the object may be con fusing. An eye-level point of view is the most natural. A bird's-eye view of a rice paddy may be meaningless unless the viewer has had the experience of climbing a hill and looking down on the paddies.
- Drawings may seem to be truer representations of reality than photographs because drawings are simplified and concentrate on important elements.
- Depth perception in pictures can be confusing, and is radically different than that in life. People accustomed to graphic conventions see converging railroad tracks and small distant trees as a phenomenon of perspective. To others, they may seem to be tracks that do meet and dwarf-sized trees.
- Picturing an object partially obscured by another object to show that the first is behind the second may lead to the belief that the object in the rear is mutilated or incomplete.
- It may be that a viewer can comprehend both realistic photographs and stick figure drawings and yet not recognize drawings falling between two extremes.
- Illustrations which are larger or smaller than life size may be confusing. A six-inch drawing of a mosquito may seem to the viewer to be a giant insect not found in his area.
- Cutaway drawings or models may be interpreted literally. A sketch of a latrine with one wall partially removed to show internal construction may lead to the building of a latrine with a part of one wall missing.
- In an illustration, shadows or shading may be interpreted as dirt, disease or hair.
- The symbolic significance of color or certain visual forms may override the intended significance. A yellow poster announcing a meeting may draw slight attendance if yellow means danger to the prospective audience.
- Some cultures have unvarying symbols of identification for position, status or sex. The omission of these symbols from an illustration may negate the artist's intent. In one case, pictures of girls not wearing beads were taken to be pictures of boys with large breasts.
- Clothing details may vary only slightly from one village to another. In one instance, women did not identity with drawings representing them because head ties were incorrectly located.
- Although the left to right sequence is natural to us, it may not be the natural sequence in other cultures.
- Actions portrayed may be interpreted as applying to only one sex. A poster urging that villagers be inoculated showed a doctor giving an injection to a woman. As a result, few men participated in the program.
Two steps may be taken to help avoid problems in visual perception. First, notice what kinds of visual media are commonplace among the audience. What does their art look like? Second, try out illustrations in a presentation with a representative sample of the audience. Question them about the visuals:
Notice reactions of the sample audience. Question snickers, perplexed looks, loss of interest. Ask, how would you draw or change the picture?
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