VIDEO:The Powerful Effects of Drawing on Learning via Edutopia

The Powerful Effects of Drawing on Learning via Edutopia

The science is clear: Drawing beats out reading and writing to help students remember concepts.
via Catherine Madden for the George Lucas Educational Foundation

Studies cited:

Creating a Recollection-Based Memory through Drawing
Wammes, Jeffrey D.,Meade, Melissa E.,Fernandes, Myra A.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, Vol 44(5), May 2018, 734-751


Drawing a picture of to-be-remembered information substantially boosts memory performance in free-recall tasks. In the current work, we sought to test the notion that drawing confers its benefit to memory performance by creating a detailed recollection of the encoding context. In Experiments 1 and 2, we demonstrated that for both pictures and words, items that were drawn by the participant at encoding were better recognized in a later test than were words that were written out. Moreover, participants’ source memory (in this experiment, correct identification of whether the word was drawn or written) was superior for items drawn relative to written at encoding. In Experiments 3A and 3B, we used a remember-know paradigm to demonstrate again that drawn words were better recognized than written words, and further showed that this effect was driven by a greater proportion of recollection-, rather than familiarity-based responses. Lastly, in Experiment 4 we implemented a response deadline procedure, and showed that when recognition responses were speeded, thereby reducing participants’ capacity for recollection, the benefit of drawing was substantially smaller. Taken together, our findings converge on the idea that drawing improves memory as a result of providing vivid contextual information which can be later called upon to aid retrieval.

Another Nail in the Coffin for Learning Styles? Disparities among Undergraduate Anatomy Students’ Study Strategies, Class Performance, and Reported VARK Learning Styles
Polly R. Husmann, Valerie Dean O’Loughlin
First published: 13 March 2018


The concept and existence of learning styles has been fraught with controversy, and recent studies have thrown their existence into doubt. Yet, many students still hold to the conventional wisdom that learning styles are legitimate, and may adapt their outside of class study strategies to match these learning styles. Thus, this study aims to assess if undergraduate anatomy students are more likely to utilize study strategies that align with their hypothetical learning styles (using the VARK analysis from Fleming and Mills, 1992, Improve Acad. 11:137–155) and, if so, does this alignment correlate with their outcome in an anatomy course. Relatedly, this study examines whether students’ VARK learning styles are correlated with course outcomes regardless of the students’ study strategies, and whether any study strategies are correlated with course outcomes, regardless of student‐specific VARK results. A total of 426 anatomy students from the 2015 and 2016 Fall semesters completed a study strategies survey and an online VARK questionnaire. Results demonstrated that most students did not report study strategies that correlated with their VARK assessment, and that student performance in anatomy was not correlated with their score in any VARK categories. Rather, some specific study strategies (irrespective of VARK results), such as use of the virtual microscope, were found to be positively correlated with final class grade. However, the alignment of these study strategies with VARK results had no correlation with anatomy course outcomes. Thus, this research provides further evidence that the conventional wisdom about learning styles should be rejected by educators and students alike. Anat Sci Educ. © 2018 American Association of Anatomists.”

Learning Styles: Concepts and Evidence
Harold Pashler, Mark McDaniel, Doug Rohrer
First Published December 1, 2009 Research Article


"The term “learning styles” refers to the concept that individuals differ in regard to what mode of instruction or study is most effective for them. Proponents of learning-style assessment contend that optimal instruction requires diagnosing individuals’ learning style and tailoring instruction accordingly. Assessments of learning style typically ask people to evaluate what sort of information presentation they prefer (e.g., words versus pictures versus speech) and/or what kind of mental activity they find most engaging or congenial (e.g., analysis versus listening), although assessment instruments are extremely diverse. The most common—but not the only—hypothesis about the instructional relevance of learning styles is the meshing hypothesis , according to which instruction is best provided in a format that matches the preferences of the learner (e.g., for a “visual learner,” emphasizing visual presentation of information).

The learning-styles view has acquired great influence within the education field, and is frequently encountered at levels ranging from kindergarten to graduate school. There is a thriving industry devoted to publishing learning-styles tests and guidebooks for teachers, and many organizations offer professional development workshops for teachers and educators built around the concept of learning styles.

The authors of the present review were charged with determining whether these practices are supported by scientific evidence. We concluded that any credible validation of learning-styles-based instruction requires robust documentation of a very particular type of experimental finding with several necessary criteria. First, students must be divided into groups on the basis of their learning styles, and then students from each group must be randomly assigned to receive one of multiple instructional methods. Next, students must then sit for a final test that is the same for all students. Finally, in order to demonstrate that optimal learning requires that students receive instruction tailored to their putative learning style, the experiment must reveal a specific type of interaction between learning style and instructional method: Students with one learning style achieve the best educational outcome when given an instructional method that differs from the instructional method producing the best outcome for students with a different learning style. In other words, the instructional method that proves most effective for students with one learning style is not the most effective method for students with a different learning style.

Our review of the literature disclosed ample evidence that children and adults will, if asked, express preferences about how they prefer information to be presented to them. There is also plentiful evidence arguing that people differ in the degree to which they have some fairly specific aptitudes for different kinds of thinking and for processing different types of information. However, we found virtually no evidence for the interaction pattern mentioned above, which was judged to be a precondition for validating the educational applications of learning styles. Although the literature on learning styles is enormous, very few studies have even used an experimental methodology capable of testing the validity of learning styles applied to education. Moreover, of those that did use an appropriate method, several found results that flatly contradict the popular meshing hypothesis.

We conclude therefore, that at present, there is no adequate evidence base to justify incorporating learning-styles assessments into general educational practice. Thus, limited education resources would better be devoted to adopting other educational practices that have a strong evidence base, of which there are an increasing number. However, given the lack of methodologically sound studies of learning styles, it would be an error to conclude that all possible versions of learning styles have been tested and found wanting; many have simply not been tested at all. Further research on the use of learning-styles assessment in instruction may in some cases be warranted, but such research needs to be performed appropriately."