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Visual & Media Literacy Guide

Visual and Media Literacy Standards

Visual Literacy provides the strategies to observe, to analyze, to interpret, and to understand visible actions, objects, and symbols, along with the abilities to think, communicate, and create visually. These essential competencies are fundamental to the twentieth first-century learner, worker and citizen.

Studium Generale UU. Visual Literacy. [Online video clip] YouTube. 2011. Web. 2017.

In the past several years, organizations including the American College Research Libraries, College Arts Association, Visual Resource Association, and National Association for Media Literacy Education have developed, endorsed, and adopted visual  and media literacy standards for higher education. 

Visual Literacy Standards, Performance Indicators, and Learning Outcomes

Association of College & Research Libraries Visual Literacy Standards
  • Standard One:The visually literate student determines the nature and extent of the visual materials needed.
  • Standard Two: The visually literate student finds and accesses needed images and visual media effectively and efficiently.
  • Standard Three: The visually literate student interprets and analyzes the meanings of images and visual media.
  • Standard Four: The visually literate student evaluates images and their sources.
  • Standard Five:  The visually literate student uses images and visual media effectively.
  • Standard Six: The visually literate student designs and creates meaningful images and visual media.
  • Standard Seven: The visually literate student understands many of the ethical, legal, social, and economic issues surrounding the creation and use of images and visual media, and accesses and uses visual materials ethically.

Media Literacy Education

National Association for Media Literacy Education Standards
  • Media Literacy Education requires active inquiry and critical thinking about the messages we receive and create.
  • Media Literacy Education expands the concept of literacy to include all forms of media (i.e., reading and writing).
  • Media Literacy Education builds and reinforces skills for learners of all ages. Like print literacy, those skills necessitate integrated, interactive, and repeated practice.
  • Media Literacy Education develops informed, reflective and engaged participants essential for a democratic society.
  • Media Literacy Education recognizes that media are a part of culture and function as agents of socialization.
  • Media Literacy Education affirms that people use their individual skills, beliefs and experiences to construct their own meanings from media messages.


Contact Information

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Allison Cywin
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College of Visual and Performing Arts
Visual Resource Center, Rm 257
285 Old Westport Rd
N. Dartmouth, MA 02747
VRC Website