6 Easy Experiments to try at Work #3 A Picture Paints a Thousand Words…or does it?

It’s often assumed that a document or presentation with pictures will be easier to understand and more memorable than text alone; sometimes 1000 wordspeople even worry that they’ll dumb something down by including pictures because it will seem too easy. So is it true that ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ and makes information much easier to grasp? Are pictures always the answer?

Researchers writing in the British Journal of Educational Psychology showed that academic achievement may not always be improved by the use of diagrams. History students showed no real difference when tested, regardless of whether they’d learned using illustrations or text or both. So perhaps using pictures doesn’t always help to make the point or make information more memorable.  Perhaps you can go back to just using text rather than endlessly searching to find the right picture to accompany it.

However, one interesting finding was that students felt the information was easier to understand and they had learned better when they had pictures as well as text. So what’s the implication of people thinking the information is easier to understand?

Feeling better about information can’t be underestimated. The researchers said “The goal of educational motivation is not only to make learning more efficient … or effective … but also to make learning more pleasant such that the affective learning experience is more satisfying and learners will want to learn more.”

This is just as true of your presentations, training sessions, reports as it is of learning. If people enjoy the experience of receiving the information they are more inclined to engage with it, make the effort to read and understand it. After all if they are faced with two reports to read and one looks like it’s going to be easier work than the other then which one do you think gets read first?

Join us to discover more research about effective ways of training and presenting information at the  ‘How to be a Brain Friendly Trainer’ programme starting on 2nd March 2015. Call us on 0118 983 6339 or visit www.howtobeabrainfriendlytrainer.com

Prangsma, M., van Boxtel, C., Kanselaar, G., & Kirschner, P. (2009). Concrete and abstract visualizations in history learning tasks. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 79 (2), 371-387