Elucidating the mechanism of spontaneous diagram use in explanations: How cognitive processing of text and diagrammatic representations are influenced by individual and task-related factors

Emmanuel Manalo, Yuri Uesaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)


Although diagrams are considered effective tools for communication, students have been reported as lacking sufficient spontaneity in using diagrams when explaining what they have learned. This study examined the possible mechanism that relates text to diagram production in the process of providing written explanations. It puts forward the hypothesis that the production of text and diagrammatic representations shares the same cognitive processing resources, the allocation of which is influenced by individual factors like language ability and task-related factors like imageability of what needs to be explained. This hypothesis was tested on Japanese university students who were administered a passage (two versions varying in imageability) to read and subsequently explain in English or Japanese. A significant correlation was found between diagram use and English language competence (measured by TOEIC scores) - but only among students asked to explain the passage with lower imageability, and in English, providing support for the hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-50
Number of pages16
JournalUnknown Journal
Volume7352 LNAI
Publication statusPublished - 2012



  • cognitive processing resources
  • communication
  • explanation
  • spontaneous diagram use
  • text and diagrammatic representations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Theoretical Computer Science

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