Working with diagrams
Working with diagrams

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Working with diagrams

2.2 Reading diagrams

When you're studying, following the sense of a piece of text may not be straightforward. Often, you'll need to rewrite the text as notes or a diagram. Equally, some diagrams will need careful reading, and you'll have to make notes or draw other diagrams. So, how can we read different types of diagrams?

Activity 4

Spend a few minutes looking critically at all four diagrams in the Collee article (click on 'View document' below). Write down what you see as their general features. (You may want to refer back to Section 1.2.)

View document [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]


The first feature I noticed was that, within the four diagrams, each of the three broad categories I listed in Section 1.1 is represented: a relationship diagram, two mathematical diagrams and a pictorial diagram respectively.

The second feature, reflected in the first, is that none of the diagrams (or figures as they are often called in textbooks) has a number assigned to it, which makes reference to it extremely difficult (compared with most of the figures in this course). Indeed, the diagrams are not even referred to in the main body of the article, and so we have no clues about when we should break our reading of the text to read the diagrams. This is also a common shortcoming in assignments, and you should remember to avoid it.

The third feature is that two of the diagrams contain a mixture of words and pictures (the first and second). The question then is: Does this help us read the diagram and extract the relevant ideas?


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