Visual Thinking Strategies: Exploring Artwork to Improve Output in the L2 Classroom

Jill Bomgaars, Jeremy W. Bachelor


            The goal of this study was to elicit greater quantity and quality of output in speaking and writing from L2 Spanish students through Visual Thinking Strategies. Previous studies completed in the L1 classroom demonstrate that students exhibit gains when pairing whole-class discussion with writing, thus inspiring this present study. As such, thirty-two Spanish IV (intermediate) students in a rural high school in the United States participated in this study that lasted eight weeks. Control and experimental groups were established to rule out additional variables. Through Visual Thinking Strategies, students in the experimental group discussed authentic artwork on multiple occasions through a teacher-facilitated discussion, followed by individual writing about the piece of artwork. Results of the study showed statistically significant growth among the experimental group in writing through measures of word tokens, word types, word tokens per sentence, and clauses per sentence. Furthermore, very large effect sizes were present. Regarding speaking, data reflect that students in the experimental group greatly outperformed their counterparts in quantity of L2 production as well in words per utterance. These results suggest that Visual Thinking Strategies may be a worthwhile strategy to incorporate into the L2 classroom as way to facilitate students’ growth in these areas.

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