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Visual Aids Critical Component to Understanding Lessons, Study Finds

Visual Aid Critical Component to Understanding Lessons, Study Finds

A newly released study has found that visual aids—specifically diagrams—shown at the start of lessons helps students master the lesson better, according to a recent Education Week article.

Though the study looked only at college students, it could have implications for how K-12 students learn as well.

The study found that "college students who had visual aids given to them before a science lecture were better able to understand and remember the lecture, but illustrative diagrams helped more than outlines," Education Week said.

It is the work of professor Mark A. McDaniel and graduate student Dung C. Bui from Washington University in St. Louis.

"The McDaniel-Bui study, released online earlier this spring, included 144 undergraduate students. Participants listened to a 12-minute lecture about car brakes and pumps. Except for those in the control group, students got either outlines or illustrative diagrams. They were then tested to see what information they recalled and whether they understood it," the article said.

The results revealed that students who were given any form of visual aid performed better than those in the control group, but that students who were specifically given and used diagrams performed the best.

"The study looks at college students, but offers suggestive possibilities for K-12 classrooms. The bigger drawback to the study, the authors caution, is its roots in applied science: Car mechanics lend themselves to visualization, but for other subjects—history, for example—the authors say it is "unclear as to whether illustrative diagrams can be developed to promote deep comprehension of other subjects.'"

The authors hope that the study will spawn further research into the value of using visual aids to complement lessons for students throughout all areas of curriculum and grade levels.

Read the full story here and comment below.(Education Week has a tiered-subscription model). 

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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