Images Help Retain Information

According to the Eye Care Council and the See to Learn program, more than 80 percent of everything that we learn is a result of visual processing. This means that students are more likely to retain information if they are able to see it visually. While some people may require more visual stimulus than others, everyone can benefit from seeing what they are learning. One study found the following information in regards to how we learn information. We retain:

10% of what we read
20% of what we hear
30% of what we see
50% of what we see and hear

According to these numbers, students will remember much more information if they are shown images along with a lecture. For this reason, images and video are a great way to improve student’s retention of information.

Whenever possible, images should be used when covering new concepts. Think about it: how many times has someone tried to describe something to you and you had no idea what they were talking about until you were shown a picture or able to see it in person? My guess would be quite often. (This explains the recent popularity growth seen by infographics.)

Take for example this description of an Oarfish:
Oarfish (Regalecus glesne), are the longest bony fish in the world. They have a snakelike body sporting a magnificent red fin and can grow up to 17 m (55.77 ft) in length! They have a distinctive horselike face and blue gills, and are thought to account for many sea-serpent sightings.(

After reading that description, is this what you envisioned?

oarfish 1024x768 Images Help Retain Information

Did you think this is what they would look like swimming? (time: 1:37)

For students with learning disabilities, images can be especially helpful. These students may have an especially difficult time remembering information delivered in a purely auditory way. In this case, images provide a simple way to reinforce what has been said.

Images can even be used to help students learn their vocabulary. In this case, the more exaggerated and ridiculous the image is, the more it will aide a student’s recall. ADDitude offers this example of using images to aide recall, “to help a student remember the meaning of the word felons (which sounds like melons), make a picture of melons dressed in prison clothing marching off to jail.”

How have you used images in your classroom to aide student retention? Have you seen a difference in the amount of information students are able to recall when they are shown an image?

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