Words + pictures teach better
How can you help students remember the difference between affect and effect, all ready and already and among and between?
How about cartoons? In one study, students who received cartoons scored almost twice as high in understanding the differences as those who’d received written examples only.
For the study, researchers showed students at a large Midwestern university web pages with lessons about confusing word pairs:
- Accept vs. Except
- Affect vs. Effect
- All ready vs. Already
- Among vs. Between
- Bring vs. Take
- Convince vs. Persuade
- Fewer vs. Less
- In vs. Into
- Infer vs. Imply
- Lay vs. Lie
- That vs. Which
Four types of information. Each page presented one word pair in one of four formats:
- Examples only. These pages included examples of the words in use. (“Dave was happy to accept yours. Dave loved all the birthday presents except yours.”)
- Examples and rules. In addition to the examples, these pages included rules for using the words. (“The word accept is used when communicating that something is taken. The word except is used when communicating that something is excluded.”)
- Examples and pictures. In addition to the examples, these pages included a cartoon of the example in action.
- Examples, rules and pictures. These pages included all of the information.
Cartoons teach best. After looking at the web pages, the students took tests that assessed their:
- Understanding of the words (concept test)
- Ability to use the words in sentences (skill test)
On both tests, students who’d received the examples and cartoons outperformed the other groups — including those who’d received the pictures and rules:
- On the concept test, those who’d seen the pictures with the examples scored almost twice as high as the examples-only group (40% vs. nearly 80%).
- On the skills test, they did half again as well (about 45% vs. about 65%).
Are your messages getting through?
How could graphic storytelling help you communicate?
Sources: L. Brent Igo, Kenneth A. Kiewra and Roger Bruning, “Removing the Snare From the Pair: Using Pictures to Learn Confusing Word Pairs,” The Journal of Experimental Education, 2004, 72 (3), 165-178
Peter S. Houts, Cecilia C. Doak, Leonard G. Doak, Matthew J. Loscalzo, “The Role of Pictures in Improving Health Communication: A Review of Research on Attention, Comprehension, Recall, and Adherence” (PDF), Patient Education and Counseling, Vol. 61, 2006, pp.173-190