Drawing visual representations of Economic and Business concepts

In Economics and Business, the combination of various textual modes, such as diagrams, graphs and symbols, provides students with a multitude of potential ways to represent their current understanding (Lemke, 2002).

Having students create their own visual representations can be beneficial as it provides an easy-to-process structure to retrieve, and show, their knowledge (Vekiri, 2002). This is particularly useful in Economics and Business to enable students to represent their understanding of concepts and the relationships between them. Without such structures, it can be challenging for students to comprehend, retain and communicate new knowledge.

Two strategies to support students to draw visual representations of their Economic and Business knowledge are:

  • using shorthand notation to show economic relationships
  • using graphic organisers to demonstrate economic understanding.

Using shorthand notation to show economic relationships

Shorthand notation can be used to translate and communicate economic understanding using symbols and abbreviations to illustrate:

  • specific economic terms
  • the relationships between these terms
  • the impact of these relationships.

Loughran (2010, p. 105) suggests that translating information and ideas from one form to another allows students to demonstrate a deeper understanding of what they have learned because they need to manipulate what they know about a given idea, concept or issue and present it differently.

A list of letters and symbols used in economic shorthand. Examples include capital D for demand, capital S for supply, up arrow for an increase, g ampersands s for goods and services.

  • Write an economic situation/problem/issue on the board for students to respond to. For example:
  • 'Explain what might happen to the economy if the average income of Australians increased.'
  • Instruct students to read the economic situation/problem/issue on the board and ask any questions about what they might have in relation to it.

If (up arrow)Y (right arrow) (up arrow)D for g&s (right arrow)

  • Students work in pairs to complete their response using economic notation.

If (up arrow)Y (right arrow) (up arrow)D for g&s (right arrow) (up arrow)S

  • The teacher makes any edits to the response if misconceptions are evident and students are instructed to edit their responses.
  • The response using economic notation can then be translated into a written response, so students have both versions of the response recorded. For example:
  •  If income increases, this will lead to an increase in demand for goods and services, which will lead to an increase in supply.

Curriculum links for this example are: VCEBR011 , VCEBR021 .

Using graphic organisers to demonstrate economic understanding

Graphic organisers can be a visual representation of information in a text. They are a type of advance organiser that that can show patterns within, and between, concepts (Manoli & Papadopoulou, 2012) whether this is by:

  • comparing and contrasting similarities and differences
  • showing hierarchical relationships
  • demonstrating relationships.

In Economics and Business, students consider relationships between and interdependence of groups such as:

  • the Australian economy in relation to the Asia region and the global economy.

One example of a graphic organiser is a Fishbone Diagram that illustrates cause and effect relationships, which is outlined below.

Fishbone diagram

  • For example: "A successful business".
  • Alternatively, the teacher could present a report or paper about successful businesses, which students can read (or the teacher could use shared and modelled reading ) to assist students to identify possible causes for creating a successful business.
  • Instruct students to write the effect at the end of the head of the arrow on the central spine of the diagram.
  • In this case, it is "A successful business". A completed Fishbone Diagram for this activity is below.
  • Discuss with students how to categorise the causes leading to the effect described.
  • Instruct students to write the names of the categories in green boxes that are attached to the arrow pointing to the central spine of the diagram. The number of categories can be more or less than the four categories that are shown in the example below.

In this fish diagram showing the causes for ‘a successful business’, Four categories were identified: Business, People, Business Processes, and Location. The four root causes identified were ‘understood by staff’ in the Business category; ‘innovative, entrepreneurial’ in the People category; ‘are sustainable’ in the Business Processes category; and, ‘physical and online location’ in the Location category.

  • You might wish to use the '5 Why' approach at this stage by asking students a series of 'Why' questions to encourage students to justify why they believe the root causes that they have identified are the primary reasons for the effect described.

Examples of the 5 Why questions and possible student responses are

  • You need a novel product or service to sell and promote first.
  • People are now more concerned about the environment and climate change, so sustainability can be a selling point.
  • More people are searching for and buying things online, so an online presence is important. It also means you can sell things overseas.
  • You want all of your staff to understand how the business works. This will mean that all of your customers will get the same treatment. You want your customers to be happy and all be treated the same.
  • Sustainable processes are more than just using resources efficiently. You can use resources efficiently but not be all that sustainable.

Curriculum link for this example is: VCEBB015 .

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COMMENTS

  1. THE CHANGING PLACE OF VISUAL REPRESENTATION IN ECONOMICS

    In this paper, we show that Paul Samuelson (1915–2009), renowned as one of the main advocates of the mathematization of economics, has also contributed to the change of the place of visual representation in the discipline.

  2. Full article: Using Visual Representations to Enhance

    1. This paper presents an intervention study examining choice of visual representation in teaching, focusing on how students understand pricing in economics. Previous research has suggested that it... Full article: Using Visual Representations to Enhance Students’ Understanding of Causal Relationships in Price Skip to Main Content Log in

  3. Drawing visual representations of Economic and Business concepts

    Two strategies to support students to draw visual representations of their Economic and Business knowledge are: using shorthand notation to show economic relationships using graphic organisers to demonstrate economic understanding. Using shorthand notation to show economic relationships

  4. THE CHANGING PLACE OF VISUAL REPRESENTATION IN ECONOMICS

    The rise of visual representation in economics textbooks after WWII is one of the main features of contemporary economics. In this paper, we argue that this development has been preceded by a no less… Expand 13 PDF The Political Economy of Textbook Writing: Paul Samuelson and the Making of the First Ten Editions of Economics (1945-1976) Yann Giraud

  5. The Changing Place of Visual Representation in Economics

    Therefore, it can be said that the prominent place of visual language in the diffusion of economic ideas was stabilized in the mid-1950s, as mathematical language became the prevailing tool of economic theorizing. From this, we conclude that the idea that algebra simply upstaged geometry in the making of economic analysis must be qualified.

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    Economics was also a much more visual book than Foundations. It has often been asserted that his diagrammatic presentation of the theory of income determination strongly contrib-uted to the dissemination of Keynesianism in the United States.4 In view of the increasing importance of visual representation both in economics textbooks and in