Drawing Is the Fastest, Most Effective Way to Learn, According to New Research by Jessica Tillman
"When was the last time you sat down with a pencil and paper and drew something? For many of us the answer is high school art class or that Paint and Sip evening you went to awhile back. Aside from professionals and a few dedicated hobbyists, few of us make time for sketching, doodling, or any other form of visual art in our lives.
But according to a fascinating new study, the right answer is whenever was the last time you tried to learn anything new. Put away the highlighter (really, science shows they’re worse than useless) and skip the flash cards. The fastest way to cram new information into your brain is by drawing it, concludes the research.
You’re probably not using the best, research-backed study technique.
The set up of the studies by a Canadian research team was simple and may remind you of college language or science classes – a group of volunteers was asked to memorize a list of words or definitions. Half were instructed to repeatedly write them down. The others were told to draw them in order to memorize them. Who did better when tested for recall?
The doodlers were the hands down winners.
And no it didn’t matter in the slightest if participants showed any artistic ability. After just 40 seconds of low quality sketching, subjects not only remembered significantly more, they also recalled more detail and context about the words and ideas they were studying. In short, they learned more, faster."-Jessica Tillman
Based on the research article:
The Surprisingly Powerful Influence of Drawing on Memory
Jeffrey D. Wammes, Melissa E. Meade
First Published August 30, 2018
ABSTRACT: “The colloquialism “a picture is worth a thousand words” has reverberated through the decades, yet there is very little basic cognitive research assessing the merit of drawing as a mnemonic strategy. In our recent research, we explored whether drawing to-be-learned information enhanced memory and found it to be a reliable, replicable means of boosting performance. Specifically, we have shown this technique can be applied to enhance learning of individual words and pictures as well as textbook definitions. In delineating the mechanism of action, we have shown that gains are greater from drawing than other known mnemonic techniques, such as semantic elaboration, visualization, writing, and even tracing to-be-remembered information. We propose that drawing improves memory by promoting the integration of elaborative, pictorial, and motor codes, facilitating creation of a context-rich representation. Importantly, the simplicity of this strategy means it can be used by people with cognitive impairments to enhance memory, with preliminary findings suggesting measurable gains in performance in both normally aging individuals and patients with dementia.”