Analyzing, constructing, and translating between graphical, pictorial, and mathematical representations of physics ideas and reasoning flexibly through them is a key characteristic of expertise. Abundant research shows that university physics students at all levels struggle to employ representations consistently and reflectively, but little instruction in physics is explicitly designed with this purpose in mind. We discuss how development of curricular activities intentionally designed to improve visual learning can improve student conceptual and visual understanding in physics using examples from quantum mechanics. The activities combine interactive computer simulations and University of Washington style tutorials. We will also discuss how learning theories have shaped the structure of the activities. We present results from pre, mid, and posttests to assess transitions in student thinking.