Tip #589: Intentional Doodling

“Doodling is the brooding of the hand.” Saul Steinberg

We have all probably doodled at one time or another in a classroom. I can remember that my doodles involved parallel lines crisscrossed in various ways by other parallel lines. But that is all I remember. I don’t remember what a teacher or a trainer was saying while I was doodling.

However, intentional doodling, or “sketch noting,” has been shown to be a very effective learning device for some learners. My guess is that those are folks who would be more comfortable taking notes in mind map format rather than outline format. My doodles would most definitely fall clearly into the outline format mindset!

In an article titled: “Making Learning Visible: Doodling Helps Memories Stick,” by Katrina Schwartz, she writes that:

“While doodling has often been seen as frivolous at best and distracting a worst, the idea of sketch noting has grounding in neuroscience research about how to improve memory. When ideas and related concepts can be encapsulated in an image, the brain remembers the information associated with that image.”

Schwartz quotes William Klemm, a professor of neuroscience at Texas A&M University, who says: “This is a way to get your working memory to carry more.”

He is referring to cognitive load research that has found that the working memory has a limited capacity for the amount of information it can hold or process at one time. However, there are two pathways to working memory: visual and auditory.

One way to expand the virtual capacity of working memory is to divide the content between its auditory and visual components so that neither processor is overtaxed. Sketch notes fit the bill, because learners are taking in the information aurally while generating a visual output.

Schwartz points out that learners may not retain much of what they write down when they take copious notes. However, she goes on to say that when learners intentionally doodle or sketch note, they are “synthesizing the information, making choices about what’s important and encoding the memory in a new way.”

Do you doodle intentionally? If so, does it help you remember?

May your learning be sweet.


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