Here’s one way to add some flair to your next learning event, or to simply encourage participants to tap into their creative side: Suggest they draw something. They should draw very purposefully, to be exact.
According to new research from the University of Waterloo, when people draw pictures of information they need to remember, they may stand a greater chance of remembering it than if they write the details down.
In the study, published February 2016 in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, participants in an experimental group were given a list of easy-to-draw words like “banana” or “bee” and prompted either to draw the word or write it out multiple times in an allotted 40 seconds. Then participants classified musical tones as part of a filler task that was supposed to aid the retention process. After that, researchers gave the student participants 60 seconds to recall as many words as they could.
“We discovered a significant recall advantage for words that were drawn as compared to those that were written,” researcher Jeffrey Wammes said in a statement. “Participants often recalled more than twice as many drawn than written words. We labeled this benefit ‘the drawing effect’ which refers to this distinct advantage of drawing words relative to writing them out.”
The experiment also looked at what effect the drawing strategy would have when used in a group classroom setting, and researchers found similar results. The experiments were conducted with single words only, and the researchers are currently working see how widely the “drawing effect” can be applied.
Wammes said he believed drawing is a strong encoding strategy because it creates a “more cohesive memory trace,” better integrating visual, motor and semantic information.
I say, a picture may indeed be worth a thousand words.