Do you retain information better from pictures?

Takeaways:

  1. Pictures can be a great way of presenting information and if this kind of article helps you find ways to improve your study habits then maybe try incorporating something similar into how you study.
  2. Think twice about bringing your laptop to class and whether or not it really improves your classroom experience.

An infographic from Edusson in their article “How to Study: Study tips for College Student” summarizes a bunch of different techniques and research on studying in a nice easy-to-read picture. While the infographic tends to summarize ideas that are pretty common or have already been reviewed on this blog, I think there are a few interesting points that it makes. And at the end of the day who doesn’t love seeing a bunch of information condensed into an easy to understand format.

The first part talks about computer use in class and has an interesting statistic that on average students spend about 17 minutes doing something other than taking notes in every 75-minute class. They then list a few things that students are most likely to do on their computer other than taking notes. I personally rarely bring my computer to class although this is in part because I can write much faster than I can type and so handwritten notes are the best way for me to get all of the information down. Even beyond that though I find that I pay better attention and understand the lectures better when I don’t have a laptop in front of me. The temptation with a laptop is always to look at the screen rather than to really engage with the professor. Engaging with the professor helps you follow and understand the lecture better and makes it easier for you to study and recall the material for a test. The professors that I have had who have not allowed computers in class are usually my favorite because they really care about presenting a compelling lecture to the students and connecting with them without the “wall” of the computer between them.

The next bit that I found interesting was the fact that a new study from 2010 showed that students who listened to music while they studied were the worst at recalling information. There still seems to be a real debate about the effect of listening to music while doing homework or studying. I can definitely see that it could have a negative impact on your ability to retain information if you are studying though because your brain is dealing with multiple sources of input. However, I do think that music can be helpful for things like writing a paper to keep you motivated and I still think that classical music or something similar may be helpful for studying but I don’t really have any research to support it.

The last thing that I really found interesting was a study that found that cramming keeps information in your short term memory, not your long-term memory which then makes it harder for you to retain. The main idea of the study I sort of already knew is that even though you can only retain it in your short term memory, it actually might make more sense to do it that way. The part that I found more interesting was the two different study methods that they used, which I’m sure was not what I was supposed to take away from the study. However, I think that it is a helpful tip to know that going through all of your notecards or information 8 times together is more effective than breaking the material up into groups and then studying each group 8 times separately.

Try to incorporate this information into your own study habits and share your own reactions to this information. Is music helpful or detrimental to your studying?