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Grouping Images to Learn to Perceive Subtle Differences

Key words:

Clustering, Picture analysis, Similarities identification

Learning objective
Identify plants diseases
1 lesson unit
Individual, class
Learning management system (LMS)


In this scenario, gardener apprentices are shown a series of pictures from different plant diseases that look very similar. Apprentices have to look closely at the images and group them by disease. Also, apprentices are asked to name the anomaly after grouping. In the end, the teachers discuss each of the groupings performed by the apprentices and discuss the potential errors with the class.

Description of the teaching approach

This activity fosters memorisation and identification of plant disease through 1) exposure to images depicting the anomalies and 2) grouping images of the diseases in categories. This activity is based on the principle of repeated exposure (Rimoin et al., 2015) that has been used in multiple professions and is known to foster memorisation and identification of different types of diseases.




This is original tool used in the scenario. you can simply post the pictures in the workspace and then students can use the collage (grouping) function to group all the images. Also, students can use the annotation function to name the images.


In Moodle you could create a folder with all the images and ask your students to sort the images in new folders. Don’t forget to allow your students to modify the folder in the folder resource parameters. More about the folder resource functionality here.

Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams

In Microsoft teams you can also create a folder with all the images and ask your students to sort the images in new folders.

You can also use a whiteboard app in which you import all the pictures. Students then have to sort the pictures spatially on the whiteboard. They can also annotate the images if necessary.

Tips and tricks

  • You can use this scenario in multiple vocational contexts, as long as you have visual material. For instance, beauticians could sort images of skin anomalies by type of anomalies. Carpenters could sort images of wood logs by the type of wood.

  • To vary the activity, you can ask your student to do this activity individually or in groups.

  • This can be a nice introductory activity, to introduce new material that the students have never seen.

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Discuss and exchange

You can discuss and share your experience about the scenarios on the Skillsnet Community network:


  • Rimoin, L., Altieri, L., Craft, N., Krasne, S., & Kellman, P. J. (2015). Training pattern recognition of skin lesion morphology, configuration, and distribution. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 72(3), 489-495.

  • Mayer, R. E. (2002). Multimedia learning. Psychology of Learning and Motivation, 41, 85-139.

  • Scheiter, K., Eder, T., Richter, J., Hüttig, F., & Keutel, C. (2019). Dental medical students’ competencies for identifying anomalies in X-rays: When do they develop? (Conference paper). 18th Biennial Conference of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI), Aachen, Germany

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