Well, I spent much of this month on the road - speaking and working in schools. It's been a great experience.

NOVA Middle School, in Olympia, WA, hosted a regional SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) conference on Saturday May 4th. I was pleased to provide the keynote on creativity with Drs. Michael Postma and Nicole Tetreault and equally pleased to provide a breakout session with three 6th grade teachers from NOVA School.

The teachers - Jason Gacek, Linda Manning, and Lara Tutarski - have been collaborating with me this year to build upon the visual learning and teaching strategies they already used in their very visual classrooms. Our presentation was titled "Visual Learning and Teaching: Powerful and Practical Strategies," and we focused on the applications of visual note-taking, one pagers and posters across the curriculum with applications for study skills, English, social studies, math, and science. The room was packed, and participants stayed after to ask questions and view visual samples of student work. Wherever I go, the growing interest in visual learning is evident. Visual learning and dual coding (discussed last month and the focus of this month's book review) are coming into their own as teachers recognize the benefits for boosting cognition, learning, retention, and creative potential.

Best, Susan
Making Memories Stick With Words and Pictures:
Dual Coding Strategies Boost Learning and Retention

It likely won’t come as a surprise here that drawing - to represent vocabulary, concepts, and skills - boosts learning and retention. Drawing has been investigated as a memory aid for several decades. Alan Pavio, a professor and cognition expert, developed dual coding theory to describe how we process both words and images for learning and retention. His research has appeared in over 200 research papers and chapters, and it consistently demonstrates that images and words – together – support memory.

Dual-coding theory posits that nonverbal and verbal information are stored separately in long-term memory thereby providing multiple pathways for accessing information. Paivio's work has implications in many areas including human psychology, learning theory, interface design, and the development of educational materials. Dual coding theory is also complemented by the theoretical work of Alan Baddeley, in which working memory is divided into a visuospatial sketchpad and a phonological loop. We think in pictures and words!

Recently, Frances Fernandes, Jeffrey Wammes, and Melissa Meade – experts in the science of memory at the University of Waterloo – conducted a study to better understand how visual modes improve students’ abilities to retain and remember information. Their experiment compared two strategies for note-taking: writing words by hand compared to illustrating words with a hand-drawn picture. 

The researchers found that drawing enhances memory relative to writing. Participants in their study recalled 20 percent of the words that were written by hand compared to 45 percent of the words that were represented by drawing. They found “drawing to be an effective and reliable encoding strategy” and one that is “far superior to writing.”

Teachers that I work with often express concern that they aren’t artists or that their students don’t have artistic ability. Research repeatedly has found that drawing boosts retention for all students – not just those who have observable artistic ability.

Drawing is active. Drawing requires decision making for how best to represent concepts and ideas. Applying dual coding approaches that incorporate even simple sketches along with words employs three types of learning – visual, verbal, and motoric. Learning takes place with the hand and the eye.

In this vein, middle school teacher Jason Gacek, who has used dual coding methods throughout his twenty plus years of teaching, has observed that the use of even simple doodles or sketches improve learning. He said that doodling as a simple drawing skill can be learned and that by creating doodles and simple drawings, students can take notes, document their learning, and “convey to others [both] complex ideas and complex emotions in a deceptively simple series of dots, lines, squiggles, shapes and flourishes.” Most of Mr. Gacek’s assignments provide for demonstrating learning both visually and verbally, and most of these assignments are created by hand.

Dual coding can be applied as at a basic level to aid in comprehension and recall. Integrating words and images can be achieved through even simple note-taking strategies. Students can fold their papers in half vertically and then designate one column for words and one column for pictures. At higher levels of thinking and learning, students can design projects to demonstrate their understanding of a particular subject area or topic. These may include illustrated books, one-pagers, posters, web pages, and more.

Take away: Verbal and visual modes boost learning when used together. Incorporate hands-on drawing, and the potential for learning and retention is even greater!
Related References:

Fernandes, M., Wammes, J., & Meade, M. (2018). The Surprisingly Powerful Influence of Drawing on Memory. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 27(5), 302-308.

Wammes, J., Meade, M., Fernandes, M., Greene, Robert L., & Benjamin, Aaron S. (2018). Creating a Recollection-Based Memory Through Drawing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 44(5), 734-751.
A Doodle for your Day

Join Dr. Susan Daniels at the 11th Annual Hormel Foundation Gifted and Talented Education Symposium for her keynote presentation "A Doodle for Your Day" Wednesday, June 19, 2019.

Austin High School, 301 Third Street NW, Austin, MN 55912

The Annual Hormel Foundation Gifted and Talented Education Symposium provides an opportunity for educators, counselors, administrators and parents to gain greater understanding of the unique needs of gifted and high potential learners. Participants attend in-depth sessions focusing on foundational knowledge, creativity, curriculum strategies, and social/emotional needs of gifted and high potential learners provided by the field's finest regionally, nationally and internationally recognized presenters. All are welcome to register and attend the symposium. Symposium participants may register for academic credit from Hamline University.

Everyday Creativity and Personal Well Being.
Susan Daniels,Tina Harlow and Elizabeth Ringlee

Research has shown that creative activity leads to long-term happiness and well- being. This session will share the experiences of a small group of gifted women who engaged in everyday experiences of “little c” – or personal – creativity and who shared in reading and discussing The Creativity Cure, by Drs. Carrie and Alton Barron. The project took place over a 7-week period during which the participants engaged in creative activity and kept a literature response journal while reading. The presenters will provide strategies for incorporating everyday creativity within one’s own life.

The Psychology, Neuroanatomy, and Care of the Creative Brain
Susan Daniels and Drs. Michael Postma and Nicole Tetreault

Take a Look at This! Creativity, Visual Thinking, and Active Learning. Susan Daniels.

Gifted Women's Qualitative Perspectives of Everyday Creativity, Self-Awareness, and the Education-of-Oneself from a Dabrowskian
Perspective. Susan Daniels, Tina Harlow and Elizabeth Ringlee
The Latest from our Blog
Books We Like:

It is rare (read: almost never) that I would recommend a book before reading and reviewing it myself. So, this is an exception. Dual Coding With Teachers, by Oliver Caviglioli, due out this month promises to be an excellent resource on using words and images together in the classroom. Furthermore, it includes contributions from teachers, professional development specialists, and information designers. I am very much looking forward to getting a copy this month. I'll revisit the book after I've read it. In the meantime, I am posting the review from Amazon below.

Review from Amazon
As part of the discovery of cognitive science, teachers are waking up to the powers of dual coding - combining words with visuals in your teaching. But cognitive scientists aren't graphic designers, and so their books don't show teachers how to be competent in producing effective visuals. Until now.Dual Coding With Teachers is a truly groundbreaking educational book. No other book has been designed with both cognitive science and graphic principles in mind. Every page contains diagrams, infographics, illustrations and graphic organizers. It has been designed to cater for both the busy teacher in a rush, as well as the research-hungry colleague. Over 35 teachers, teacher developers, psychologists and information designers are profiled, each with a double-page spread, highlighting their dual coding practice.
About Dr. Daniels

Dr. Susan Daniels is a professor, an author, a consultant, and an educational director of a psycho-educational center that specializes in the needs of gifted, creative, and twice-exceptional children. She has been a professional development specialist for over 20 years, regularly providing workshops and training on creativity and visual learning and teaching. Susan is an avid doodler who enjoys working visually in her journals, and she is dedicated to supporting teachers’ development of visual literacy and enhanced understanding of visual learning and teaching strategies. She lives in Berkeley, California.

Join the Conversation
© Insight Resources 2019 Dr. Susan Daniels. All rights reserved.