Instructional Message Design
As I read through this chapter about the gestalt principle, the whole is greater than its parts; I knew exactly what I would do for my project. I have been struggling with an image that would facilitate student understanding of the three branches of government and the way in which they check each other’s powers. The checks and balance system has always been very difficult to graphically depict. With this in mind, I decided to use the five principles of the gestalt principle to develop an image that would depict the checks and balance system of our government.
Closure was the first principle that I looked at in this image, “how the mind seeks completion” (162). When this image is viewed by students, they see the center overlapping areas of the circles. Then they notice the three circles representing the three branches of government. This affect allows the user to generate a general understanding of how the three branches check each other’s powers in our system of government.
Contiguity was the next principle I began to work on in this image. Here I wanted to provide the user with direction, so they could better understand the image. This was attempted in two different ways. I utilized the figure ground principle using color, drawing the user’s eyes to the center of the circle. The second way that I provide direction is through the use of arrows that depict where the user is supposed to apply that information.
Similarity is another principle that was applied to this image. The use of color reduces cognitive load for the user by providing locations for specific information. Grey was used for information on the three branches of government. White was used for the specific powers each branch has over the other branches. “By grouping elements, the mind is automatically reducing the cognitive load placed on memory” (162).
Proximity was accomplished easily in this image by placing the required information directly on the image. This allowed the user’s mind to “group elements based on their closeness to each other” (167).
Experience is the last element employed in this image, “new impressions are influenced by previous experiences or by immediate context” (168). Since the students will use this image after having spent some time learning about the three branches of government, they will have past knowledge that will allow them to make the most out of this particular image.
This chapter was very interesting for me. It seemed to bring things together for the semester, which was interesting since it was only the seventh chapter in the book. Having applied all five gestalt principles to this image, I feel that I have developed a resource that best fits my unique needs based on the use of closure, contiguity, similarity, proximity, and experience.