Pedagogy Corner: Placement matters! Textbook art placement

Multimedia Principles - Peach diagramWhen your textbook moves from the manuscript phase to the production phase, your publisher’s composition team might have different ideas about where your figures and photos should be placed than what you had envisioned. What can you do (besides get angry) when your callout appears at the bottom of page 37 and the figure doesn’t appear until the bottom of page 38 after a page turn? Justify your requests with research! According to the Multimedia Principle, people learn more deeply from words and pictures than from words alone. For authors interested in the wealth of research that supports this, I highly recommend Richard Mayer’s book, Multimedia Learning, published by Cambridge University Press (2009).

According to Mayer, we achieve deeper learning because we process words and pictures through different pathways in our brain and we can be more successful at remembering content when a picture is present with the words we are reading (or hearing). Take care, however.  For learning to deepen, the visual must be relevant to the text and not have any extraneous or distracting elements. I have had many discussions with my publisher’s production team about figures and page turns, and while they may resist re-paging an entire chapter, there are often times that I can convince them to modify pages for the sake of student learning and textbook quality by backing up my requests with research evidence.


Laura FrostLaura Frost is professor of chemistry and Interim Associate Dean at Florida Gulf Coast University. She is co-author of an introductory chemistry textbook in fourth edition. She has a strong background in K-20 STEM Education and gives many invited talks on subjects surrounding STEM pedagogy including applying the science of learning to effective classroom instruction, using active learning in the classroom, and implementing classroom assessment techniques. Dr. Frost will moderate the discussion.