Drawing & Memory
This is an article from Edutopia.com that I have been sharing my Graduate Education students.I felt it might be helpful to share it as school begins next week.
(Edutopia is a website published by the George Lucas Educational Foundation. Founded in 1991 by filmmaker George Lucas and venture capitalist Steve Arnold, the Foundation "celebrates and encourages innovation" in K-12 schools. )
The Research Is In: The Science of Drawing and Memory - Want students to remember something? Ask them to draw it.
By Youki Terada
March 14, 2019
It’s long been known that drawing something helps a person remember it. A new study shows that drawing is superior to activities such as reading or writing because it forces the person to process information in multiple ways: visually, kinesthetically, and semantically. Across a series of experiments, researchers found drawing information to be a powerful way to boost memory, increasing recall by nearly double.
Myra Fernandes, Jeffrey Wammes, and Melissa Meade are experts in the science of memory—how people encode, retain, and recall information. At the University of Waterloo, they conducted experiments to better understand how activities such as writing, looking at pictures, listening to lectures, drawing, and visualizing images affect a student’s ability to remember information.
In an early experiment, they asked undergraduate students to study lists of common terms—words like truck and pear—and then either write down or illustrate those words. Shortly afterward, participants recalled 20 percent of words they had written down, but more than twice as many—45 percent—of the terms they had drawn. This experiment helped to establish the benefits of drawing.
In a follow-up experiment, the researchers compared two methods of note-taking—writing words by hand versus drawing concepts—and found drawing to be “an effective and reliable encoding strategy, far superior to writing.” The researchers found that when the undergraduates visually represented science concepts like isotope and spore, their recall was nearly twice as good as when they wrote down definitions supplied by the lecturer.
Importantly, the benefits of drawing were not dependent on the students’ level of artistic talent, suggesting that this strategy may work for all students, not just ones who are able to draw well.
Across a total of eight experiments, the researchers confirmed drawing to be a “reliable, replicable means of boosting performance”—it provided a significant boost to students’ ability to remember what they were learning.
Why is drawing such a powerful memory tool? The researchers explain that it “requires elaboration on the meaning of the term and translating the definition to a new form (a picture).” Unlike listening to a lecture or viewing an image—activities in which students passively absorb information—drawing is active. It forces students to grapple with what they’re learning and reconstruct it in a way that makes sense to them.
The researchers also suggest that drawing results in better recall because of how the information is encoded in memory. When a student draws a concept, they “must elaborate on its meaning and semantic features, engage in the actual hand movements needed for drawing (motor action), and visually inspect [the] created picture (pictorial processing).”
At a neural level, the strength of a memory depends largely on how many connections are made to other memories. An isolated piece of information—such as a trivial fact—is soon forgotten in the brain’s constant effort to prune away unused knowledge. The opposite, however, is also true: The more synaptic connections a memory has, the more it resists eventually being forgotten.
So when we draw, we encode the memory in a very rich way, layering together the visual memory of the image, the kinesthetic memory of our hand drawing the image, and the semantic memory that is invoked when we engage in meaning-making. In combination, this greatly increases the likelihood that the concept being drawn will later be recalled.
This Is Not About Learning StylesIt would be a mistake to think that drawing is beneficial because it taps into a particular learning style. Research has debunked the idea that students learn best when teachers try to match instruction to a single modality.
Instead, what’s happening is that drawing taps into multiple modalities—visual, kinesthetic, and semantic—which is superior to tapping into only one. When students draw something, they process it in three different ways, in effect learning it three times over.
In the ClassroomThere are several ways that teachers can incorporate drawing to enrich learning.
Art Accelerated's Fall Art Expression Program starts October 7th & 9th. See details on our Art Education page and sign up at the Tillamook YMCA
I have heard that most people want the same things, no matter their creed, politics, gender, religion: the elementaries of healthy, nourishing food, shelter that gives comfort, water, heat or cooling, safety, a good education for their children, and connection to one another, face to face, heart to heart.
The older I become, the more I see we are all connected—the blood of green things has only one thing different from human blood. Plants have chlorophyll and we have—whatever it is we have. Iron? Hemoglobin? The rest of what flows through us is the same.
You know how when someone massages your lower back and your shoulder or your toe tingles and twitches? Just like our nervous system, there’s a network among all living things, atoms and nano particles, that recognize one another. When you realize this connection, you understand the need to treat others, who are also some part you, with kindness, thoughtfulness, and consideration. Nothing is happy if you don’t.
To set others apart by differences rather than celebrating our sameness, never takes us anywhere good.
Even when we are wicked, it’s because we feel lost from that center that connects us all. Once we find that center and hold, we right ourselves again.
Listen to what people want--
They don’t want to be afraid.
They don’t want to be alone.
They don’t want to be no one.
They want to be seen.
They want to be heard.
They want to be felt.
They want to feel worthy and accepted.
Instead of demonizing others, casting them away, let’s find common ground and go from there, celebrating each other.
Karen Keltz is a local writer, her book: "Sally Jo Survives Third Grade" is available for purchase at Art Accelerated. Karen is a member of Art Accelerated and a regular attendee at the Writer's MeetUp, first Wednesday of the month, 6 - 8pm, Art Accelerated's Annex, 1906A Third Street.
by Cindy Gardner
“I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”
Apprehensive but determined, I decided to sign up and get started on my activity list in retirement: painting. I’ve always wanted to paint and have painted off and on a little bit in high school and then again a few years ago, but never really over a long period of time. Both of my grandmothers painted in their retirement and we were always fascinated with what they created. Of course I’ve always had the plastic crayola watercolor sets, paper and brushes for our children, Natalie and Sam in their childhood years. I always wanted to make sure they had an opportunity to explore art even though I didn’t really know what I was doing as a teacher of art. Sam seemed to take to painting and drawing and most things art, but now as a young father-not so much! Young fatherhood requires a different time commitment at this point for him. I always make sure one of his Christmas presents is a sketch book or pencils though: I won’t let him forget! Painting and drawing weren’t really Natalie’s forte’ even though I know she still has an eye for design and color. She mainly didn’t want to spend time on art, preferring to play school, restaurant, store, make lists or better yet-ride her horse and be outside.
But the paints and the art supplies still stand at-the-ready on the kitchen table when our grandchildren come up, and during the summer, we fortunately get more grandchild time. Chloe (15), Carsen (12) and Callan(8) have both acrylic or oil pieces for the Fair all ready to be entered. Sawyer (5) worked on a watercolor titled, “Ted’s Reds” inspired by a bouquet of red dahlias from our garden named for dad, and Hayden (3) worked on a masterpiece titled, “Ocean.” At three, there’s mainly a lot of dipping of the brush in the water and at least two or three spills of the water cup all over the entire table of everyone else’s work and paints and .....you know how that goes! All that’s required of this grandma: supplies and sets for each child; excitement for what is in progress; encouragement for what might be the next step; help with cleaning up the water all over the table....yet again; and a great, big refrigerator door for displaying their most recent work! And in some cases, unending patience. Instruction on my part is pretty much limited to “a little less water makes the color darker”; “you might want to bring the sky clear down to the mountain top”; “what would look good here?” So, I didn’t really have an expectation of what I was getting myself into with an acrylic painting class.
It was finally my turn to be the art student, but then the questions started rolling around in my head: Are you sure? What if there are people who are so much better and my work looks like....? What if this isn’t your thing at all? How will I know what to do when? What if I don’t hold the brush the right way? I don’t know what color and what color makes another color. Will anyone talk to me? Who else will be there? Am I going to be the oldest? What if they have taken classes before and I haven’t?
Of course my apprehension was short-lived when I started painting on Thursday nights at the Art Accelerated Annex behind the Gallery at 1906 Third Street. I joined a small group of people who are all trying to figure out what to do next with their painting project. Most of us have an idea of what we want to paint, but don’t know where to begin or what color to mix to get the desired shade or what brush would be best. Christine, our instructor, has had years of instruction practice with children and adults, and being an artist herself, knows what will help each one of us grow as an artist. She’s there to help and encourage at whatever our skill level. Another positive aspect of being in a small group of painters is that we get feedback from each other about our pieces: how the petals on the flower have depth, or how we like how the wave is flicking its frothy self all over the canvas. The feedback gives us even more ideas of what to do next or how to keep going. It’s a positive, encouraging environment-a place to delve into your artself. And one of the benefits of learning about your artself? Everything else seems to disappear,and all you think about is the canvas in front of you. A wonderful escape.
What have you always wanted to paint or draw or create? Come join us, the water is warm!!!!
Acrylic Painting Class: Thursdays from 6 - 8 PM at the Art Accelerated Annex, 1906 Third Street, downtown Tillamook $45 for six sessions, supplies included, Christine Harrison, instructor. This class goes through August. New class starts October 10th.
Open Studio: Tuesdays from 1:30 - 3:30 PM at the Art Accelerated Annex...bring your own supplies/some supplies provided/some available for purchase...work on whatever art project you desire with Christine’s help if wanted. $5 per class or 5 for $20 with punch card
For questions or more information: artaccelerated.org