6 Easy Experiments to try at Work #6 Actually Pictures Might be worth a 1000 words after all

Whilst a previous blog in this series suggested that giving out pictures didn’t help people interpret and learn information any better than text 1000 words(certainly in the context of history) there is some evidence that suggests that drawing something yourself may improve your learning or uptake of information.

Children were asked to learn some biology facts: some were encouraged to use pictures and draw whilst others worked with text alone.  The group who used drawings were about a third more successful than their peers when they were tested afterwards on a multiple choice (scoring 61 per cent correct on average vs. 44 per cent) and a drawing test (scoring 52 per cent on average vs. 28 per cent).  The researchers believe that drawing has this benefit for learning because it “encourages learners to engage in generative cognitive processing during learning such as organising the relevant information into a coherent structure, and integrating it with relevant prior knowledge from long-term memory.”

Whilst this study was conducted with school children it’s definitely worth trying some drawing at work when you’ve got to remember some information or learn something new.  It hasn’t been tested whether drawing works for all types of information but it seems to be effective for causal chains of events – so if you’re learning a process drawing could be a great way to do it.

When you’re presenting that new procedure and want people to remember it try experimenting with handouts that have text labels and ask people to draw the procedure or the sequence of events.
Or if they’re keen ask them to try drawing the process from scratch.
Potentially even mindmapping the information would be more effective than taking notes.
Reassure people they don’t need to be Leonardo Da Vinci – a few stick men and blobs will be better than nothing.

After all you might increase the uptake of information and potentially have more fun at the same time. Visit http://howtobeabrainfriendlytrainer.com/ for details of open and inhouse workshops

Schmeck, A., Mayer, R., Opfermann, M., Pfeiffer, V., & Leutner, D. (2014). Drawing pictures during learning from scientific text: testing the generative drawing effect and the prognostic drawing effect Contemporary Educational Psychology, 39 (4), 275-286