Single elements of meaning (like words or numbers) can be combined to make new meanings. Those new meanings, however, depend upon understanding the rules or structures (like syntax in a sentence or the properties of equations) of how those elements are combined. When the syntax of a sentence or the structure of a graphical representation is not obvious or familiar to learners, comprehension suffers. To ensure that all learners have equal access to information, provide alternative representations that clarify, or make more explicit, the syntactic or structural relationships between elements of meaning.
- Clarify unfamiliar syntax (in language or in math formulas) or underlying structure (in diagrams, graphs, illustrations, extended expositions or narratives) through alternatives that:
- Highlight structural relations or make them more explicit
- Make connections to previously learned structures
- Make relationships between elements explicit (e.g., highlighting the transition words in an essay, links between ideas in a concept map, etc.)