Abstract: We tend to assume that visuals help students learn. However, visuals can impede students’ learning if lack representational competencies: knowledge and skills about what visual representations show and how to use them to solve problems. Much research focuses on explicit, conceptual types of competencies that allow students to verbally explain how visuals show information. However, students also have intuitive, implicit knowledge about visuals that is not necessarily verbally accessible. Such intuitive knowledge is important because it allows students to “just see” what a visual shows, without having to think about it, which frees cognitive capacities for learning. In this talk, I will describe a series of studies that investigate how we can help students build intuitive knowledge about visuals in a way that enhances their learning of chemistry content. I will also give an outlook on my future work that will explore how to identify and build on students’ existing intuitions about visuals.