Visual Thinking Strategies: Experiences of an arts-based curriculum in an Irish University Medicine and Health Faculty


  • Francesca Maria Keogh University College Cork, Ireland
  • Alice Lee University College Cork, Ireland
  • Fiona Gibbon University College Cork, Ireland


Clinical skills, education, healthcare, Visual Thinking Strategies.


Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) is a student-centred curriculum designed to engage students in examination and discussion of pieces of art/images. Recent studies have identified the use of VTS as an effective tool in improving observation, critical-thinking and problem-solving skills among undergraduate healthcare students. To date, research regarding VTS within healthcare training has focussed primarily on student outcomes. We are not aware of any research investigating facilitators' beliefs and experiences of facilitating VTS.

The aim of this study was to gather qualitative, descriptive data exploring facilitators’ and students’ experiences of VTS in the health disciplines of one Irish University. It was conducted in one higher education institution in Ireland where VTS is delivered as part of the undergraduate programmes within medicine and health disciplines. Eight facilitators and seven students participated. A qualitative research design was employed. One-to-one, semi-structured interviews using open-ended questions were conducted. Descriptive thematic analysis was employed to analyse the participants’ responses. Four main themes emerged from the data: VTS as a teaching method, student engagement with VTS, potential of VTS to transfer to clinic and the future of VTS within medicine and healthcare settings. Facilitators reported belief in the potential of VTS, however, expressed concerns that this potential is not yet being reached. Student data supports the use of VTS for development of clinical skills. Timing of delivery of VTS in relation to clinical practice was identified as a key consideration to increase opportunities for clinical transference, thus improving client outcomes. The need for curriculum embedment, further research and resources were identified as important factors contributing to further development of VTS within healthcare curricula

Author Biographies

Francesca Maria Keogh, University College Cork, Ireland

Francesca Keogh is a Speech and Language Therapist, obtaining her degree in University College Cork. Francesca currently practices as an SLT with a paediatric population in community and school settings.

Alice Lee, University College Cork, Ireland

Dr. Alice Lee is an SLT and Lecturer in Speech and Hearing Sciences at University College Cork, Ireland. Her research interests include perceptual/instrumental investigations of speech disorders associated with structural/neurological impairments; and listener training for perceptual judgements. Recent research focuses on EPG/ultrasound investigations of normal articulation and SSDs in children.

Fiona Gibbon, University College Cork, Ireland

Fiona Gibbon is an SLT and Emeritus Professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences at UCC, Ireland. She researches instrumentation to improve diagnosis and interventions of children’s speech disorders, phonological impairment, cleft palate and autism. She has published over 70 scholarly papers and is a Fellow of the RCSLT.






Research Articles