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Is doodling a good teaching tool?


Just guessing, but if you’ve achieved an educational level that makes the overall material in this blog at all interesting you were probably a doodler when you were a student. I was, but that isn’t the only reason for this otherwise unwarranted assumption: recent studies show that doodlers retain and process 29% more information while listening to a lecture. Who knew?

Exactly why doodling provides an advantage is still a matter of conjecture.  Some educators don’t care why, they are simply looking for any advantage they can find that will help students succeed. Sunni Brown from Austin, Texas is among that number. Considered  one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business and one of the “10 Most Creative People on Twitter”  by the business magazine, Fast Company,  Ms Brown fervently believes in the power and value of doodling.  She is the Chief “Infodoodler” (this position title found on Wiki) of Sunni Brown Ink, a “visual thinking consultancy” with which she pursues her passion.

Further, science class is considered a great place to doodle--or at least, draw while listening to lectures. Kids that try to visualize and draw what the teacher is discussing retain more information, became more engaged in the classes and enjoy what they were learning more than those that don't. This sounds less like doodling, an unfocused, subconscious activity, than an attempt at engagement.

Engagement is what we are all about at RobotsLAB. Our BOX with its attendant robots keeps kids focused on algorithms that they would ordinarily not understand; and, what’s worse, they usually wouldn’t try to understand. Seeing this math playing out in real time on a tablet while interacting with a fascinating robotic  demonstrator makes all the difference in encouraging them to learn.

While doodling seems to work, there have been negative results in some studies. One, in British Columbia, found the doodling during visual presentations like videos actually seemed to retard learning. Again, no one is certain as to why. Best guess is that both activities, watching a video and doodling, require the attention of the visual parts of the brain. Sounds like the conflict resulting from connecting two computer peripherals on the same circuit.  


  • Oct 10, 2014 4:57:00 PM
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