Last week I was lucky enough to attend the ResearchEd national conference in London. I have spent the last week mulling over the sessions I attended and writing up my notes. Any errors are most certainly my own but this is what I took away from my day.
Pupils learn best when graphics support what is being said – however they learn less well when words are displayed alongside verbal instructions.
Graphics can/should be organised to show the thought process the teacher is having – it makes the schema visible and can be referred back to by the pupil. Oral explanation is transient and trying to hold what has been said in the working memory taxes it and leads to cognitive overload.
A useful lie is the idea that we can hold on to three pieces of information at any one time and do something with it. If we need pupils to have more than three pieces of information to complete a task it either needs to be accessible as part of their schema in long term memory or displayed for them to use.
Images also give another way of accessing ideas in long term memory. We may remember the word to trigger the memory or the image.
Decorative visuals however are an undesirable distraction and should be avoided.
We should also give more thought to how we create resources like knowledge organisers. They can be very powerful but need to be set out in a way that aids memory. Clearly defined categories, flow diagrams etc.
This is what I took away from the session.
- We should think very carefully about how we use visual images. I use them a lot to show diagrams and processes but less to show a structured summary of my thoughts.
- Are knowledge organisers actually organised? Are they organised well to support learning?