Canadian Consulting Engineer

Having troubling remembering? Try drawing

May 3, 2016

A study at the University of Waterloo has found that the best way to remember information is to draw it.

Jeffrey Wammes, Ph.D candidate in the Department of Psychology, along with Melissa Meade, another Ph.D candidate, and Professor Myra Fernandes, conducted an experiment in which they presented student participants with a list of simple words, such as apple. The students were given 40 seconds to either draw the word or write it out repeatedly.

After a “filler” task involving musical tones, the students were asked to recall as many words as they could from the initial list in 60 seconds.

“We discovered a significant recall advantage for words that were drawn as compared to those that were written,” said Wammes. “Participants often recalled more than twice as many drawn than written words.”


Drawing the words was more effective for recall than listing their physical characteristics, creating mental images, or viewing pictures of the objects the word depicted.

Adding doodles or shading did not change the results. Nor did it matter how good an artist the memorizer was.

But the test was done using only single words, so the researchers are now trying to ascertain how widely it can be applied to other types of information.

Click here to read the announcement from the University of Waterloo.



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