Creating Visual Explanations Improves Learning

Eliza BobekUniversity of Massachusetts Lowell
Barbara TverskyColumbia Teachers College


Diagrams and other visual explanations are widely used in instruction, in media, in presentations, in public places, and more because they communicate effectively and improve learning and performance. They use space and elements in space to represent meanings more directly than purely symbolic words. Can creating visual explanations also promote learning? In two studies, students were taught a STEM phenomenon. Half created visual explanations and half created verbal explanations; afterwards their knowledge was tested. Those who had created visual explanations performed better in a post-test than those who created verbal explanations. Visual explanations provide a check for completeness and coherence as well as a platform for inference, notably from structure to process.


Creating Visual Explanations Improves Learning (3.4 MB)

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