Unit 7 Assignment

This assignment instructed students to create a graphic or job aid that illustrated the principal of hierarchy in a visual manner. The expectation was students would build upon past lessons and employ the values of C.A.R.P., figure/ground, and the A.C.E. model in the process of creating the example. The aid I produced is for a high school journalism class learning about the news business.

Question 1. (from Unit 3 materials)

Synectics is one method of approaching a visual problem. What are the critical tools used in this approach, and why is this an effective strategy?


The analogy and the metaphor are the two primary means of synectics. They are valuable because they push the designer into exploring new idea outside of their normal range of thinking, by employing either divergent of generative thinking approaches.

Question 2. (from unit 4 materials)

The text discusses the idea of a 'novelty effect' can have value in attracting attention. Discuss the pros and cons of using novelty images in instruction.


The use of novelty images may benefit instruction by catching a learner's attention by conflicting with the expected lesson content. Novelty images can be detrimental in that they may use cognitive resources learners need to process lesson content. The discussion might be expressed in terms of relevant theory. Does the concept of arousal theory hold sway, is cognitive load theory more important? In my opinion, the behaviorism originated arousal theory holds less value in present day design of multimedia instruction than cognitive load theory and the idea of chunking and other methods designed to maximize the processing of information.

Question 3. (from unit 5 materials)

Based on what Chapter 6 says about hierarchy, examine this  newspaper page and  list the  6 stories in order of importance.


  1. Stabbing
  2. Layoffs
  3. Yankees
  4. Gunman
  5. Rail yard
  6. Age

Question 4. (from unit 5 materials)

For the hierarchy of question 3, explain why you put the stories in the hierarchy you did.


Newspapers, in this case The Advocate of Stamford, CT, use a vertical, top down hierarchy, but also use headline size, type face, type weight (bold, regular, italic) and color as well as text volume to connote importance. The more space devoted to a story, the more important it is.

#1. Stabbing: The story stripped across the top of the page, has the biggest headline and it is highest on he page, so

editors considered it the most important story to their audience.

#2. Layoffs: The school superintendent discussing layoffs in the school system. Schools are the most expensive item on any municipality budget, and garner a lot of attention, especially when cutting is discussed.

#3.Yankees: Stories with photos are usually in the lead position, but in this case, a feature story on the opening of the new Yankee Stadium, which is only about fifteen miles from Stamford, is a big deal, but in the face of the stabbing, and layoffs, gets moved down. The editors connote the reduced importance by employing a soft headline (using a regular font in stead of a bold one) and no story, just a long cut line. 

#4. Gunman: The shooting story is next in the hierarchy. The story of 14 people being murdered in Binghamton, NY was a big story, nationally, but Binghamton is five hours from Stamford, so while it was front page news, editors elected to push it down the page. Still, they put it on the right side of the page, which is considered more important than the left. Newspaper readers for some reason, drift 'right' when they read, and read right hand column stories before those on the left of the paper.

#5. Rail yard: A state story, and at the bottom. It is on the front page, so it its considered more important than those stories inside the “book” or news section, but far down the page with no photo.

#6. Age: The left side position and lack of a bold headline or accompanying photograph say this is the least important on the front page, even though it is higher on the cover of the paper than the rail yard story.

These kinds of hierarchical decisions are some of the many criticisms newspapers and other media organizations face when deciding where (newspapers) and when (for newscasts) to run stories. If you have family in Binghamton, or you think nationally about the news, then obviously, you think the gunman story is far more important. People think of the internet as more democratic when it comes to delivering the news, but that is not necessarily the case. On the internet, popularity in terms of 'hits' and impact web page design, (using keywords and metas effectively), are what determines which stories pop up highest on a search. So if you search for say, information on Sarah Palin, stories about her daughter's baby's father, her half sister in law's arrest, and her stint on Saturday night Live will be above most of the policy decisions she's made, or her actions as governor. If you're from Connecticut, that might be what you want, but if you're an Alaskan, trying to see if she's cutting state jobs, maybe not. In either case a hierarchy determined by others is what decides what people see and when they see it.

Question 5. (from Unit 6 Materials)

Both of the images below: on the left epidemiologist, and biological warfare expert John Marr, and on the right, Amanda Pape, Sacred Heart University's all-time scoring leader; are balanced.  Define the images as either symmetrical or asymmetrical, and explain why and how they are balanced.


The left photo of John Marr is asymmetrically balanced. The large area of "white space" on the right of the image balances the epidemiologist (with the anthrax bacillus projected onto his face) on the left.

The photo on the right is symmetrically balanced. The two umbrellas and light stands act as counter weights, while the subject is set dead center of the photo, and in the middle of the school's coat of arms as well.