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Published on November 26, 2019

How to Use Visual Learning to Learn Effectively

How to Use Visual Learning to Learn Effectively

People learn in different ways; and out of the many forms of learning, one is particularly interesting — that is those who partake in visual learning.

These are the people who envision precise locations, have a near-photographic memory or can remember covers of books or specific details vividly.

These people possess truly unique abilities, however, one of the problems visual learners face is their uphill battle with learning. Ever since elementary school, our education system is a system that benefits primarily one form of learning over others.

And while our education system isn’t good in accommodating visual learning, the learning community at large has uncovered a wide variety of information.

In fact, there are some highly effective learning techniques that visual learners can use to learn effectively now and for the future.

The Characteristics of a Visual Learner

To determine whether visual learning is best for you, it’s worth looking at characteristics. In school settings, study.com uncovered the following traits:[1]

  • Remember what they read over what they hear.
  • Prefer reading stories over listening.
  • Learn through sight.
  • Use diagrams, charts, and drawings to understand ideas and concepts.
  • They will take notes during classes and presentations.
  • They study by reviewing things.
  • Have good spelling.
  • Requires them to have a quiet space and time to study.
  • Prefer working alone rather than in groups.
  • Will ask questions to clarify.

Visual learners also portray the following characteristics:

  • Can recall faces, but not names.
  • Have a good sense of direction and are good with maps.
  • Make to-do lists.
  • Will notice changes in appearance in both physical space and in people.
  • Often are quiet and shy.
  • Have a good sense of fashion.
  • Make plans for the future.

The Perks of Visual Learning

While visual learners can benefit from this unique way of learning, those who aren’t visual learners can still reap benefits from it.

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While everyone has their own preference for learning, studies show that a predominant amount of us are visually inclined. Consider the work of Silverman L.K. who in 2002 did a study of 750 students in two schools.[2]

From the study, Silverman discovered 63% of students surveyed were visual-spatial learners. The problem is that those talents couldn’t be seen well seeing as the education system lacked support in that area.

By including more visual learning in the classroom, those individuals will reap the benefits. Even the auditory learners can get benefits as well. This is based on Richard Mayer’s work who, in 2009, found that when using texts and graphics, retention increased by 42%.[3]

Here’s what visual learning can do in terms of effective learning:

Help Store Info Longer

Our brains process pictures faster than they do words. Whenever we see pictures, they are etched in our long-term memory, allowing us to recall concepts and ideas.

Make Communication Quicker And Simpler

Do you know why so many blog posts are listed in bullets? Do you know why people get headaches or confused when they see massive walls of text and no paragraphs?

It’s because we’ve learned that breaking information into smaller sections – and using bullet points – can help in processing information better. It’s the same idea as using an image or video for learning. This was uncovered by the Visual Teaching Alliance which has listed all kinds of facts on visual learning.[4]

What all this means is that, since we have a bias towards images, videos, and bullet points for learning, the best way for us to convey ideas is to use these methods in future teaching methods. These mediums can help us convey ideas in many ways compared to walls of text.

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Serve as a Stimulus for Emotions

Emotions and visual information are processed in the exact same spot in our brain. Because of this connection, if we use plenty of visuals to stir emotions, people will be able to form links easier. All because they got an emotional response from something.

This idea is similar to why we consume content in general, the headline pulls us in because it stirs an emotion within us.

Inspire People

We all have subjects that we’re not that excited for or that we struggle to grasp. Whatever the case is, visual has a way of sparking motivation and interest.

There is that emotional aspect I mentioned, but the idea of putting in videos, images, and graphics break up the boredom of information and motivate and excite people.

When we are engaged with what we’re learning -even if it’s something we’re not remotely keen on – it can still benefit us.

How a Visual Learner Learns Best

Visual learners need to embrace visual learning techniques and strategies to learn effectively. Like with any other learning style, there are a number of ways for you to gain benefits. Broadly speaking, some strategies that ThoughtCo [5] have brought up come to mind:

  • Taking notes as you learn.
  • Studying by yourself.
  • Sitting closer to the instructor in classroom settings.

But there are other techniques that can be considered as well. Here are four other highly regarded techniques:

1. Use To-Do Lists

With so many things on the go, it makes sense for people to start organizing duties once more in to-do lists. Even if you’re not a visual learner, a to-do list can let you order tasks based on importance and boost your productivity.

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In learning settings, this also adds structure. People can understand and process what is being covered over the course of the class or lecture. In a sense, it outlines the person’s goals and intentions.

What’s also nice about to-do lists is their flexibility. For example, some people have decided to color-code tasks or use various shapes and symbols. These pull the attention of the individual and can serve as a guiding post for them.

2. Add Graphs And Charts

Adding in graphs and charts to convey ideas is another way to learn effectively. It’s along the same lines as using to-do lists, though this is more time-consuming.

Using graphs and charts can help in a wide variety of areas for personal life, and for learning. Graphs and charts can help you keep an eye on finances and budgeting for example. In learning, they can be used to convey ideas and enhance your learning.

Further exploring this, graphs can help us develop data literacy.[6] Since graphs and charts can be used in all manner of things, we can use data literacy to ask meaningful questions which can deepen our learning experience.

3. Use Mind-Mapping

Mind-mapping is a form of note-taking that specifically benefits visual learning. The idea with mind-mapping is to display relationships and connections to people, places, events and more.

This technique helps with broad learning of particular concepts, but it has other applications as well. You can use this to break down tasks – similar to to-do lists – and it can measure your productivity as well.

Learn more about mind-mapping in this article: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

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4. Use Videos

As mentioned above, videos have a way of gripping people’s attention, so why not incorporate it into your learning?

We all have a little bit of visual learning in us, so videos greatly benefit everyone in the room. It allows us to recreate those stories into clear pictures in our minds.

I would encourage you to be creative with videos. While you can try to record the lecturer or their words can help you, it might also benefit you to record yourself and make videos explaining certain concepts. This helps with the learning process because we often use hand gestures and other techniques instinctively to say what we mean; even outside of learning atmospheres.

Final Thoughts

While visual learning has a lot of benefits, it’s not the only learning style that helps with your learning. Each learning style has its benefits and everyone has their own preferences.

The key to visual learning is that since so many of us have some visual learning aspect, we should use it to complement our learning experience. And based on the various techniques and effects, visual learning can definitely help you learn faster.

More About Learning

Featured photo credit: Chang Duong via unsplash.com

Reference

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Published on January 14, 2020

15 Effortless Memorization Tricks To Remember Anything

15 Effortless Memorization Tricks To Remember Anything

The struggle is real!

With so much happening in life, it’s hard to remember the details. In particular, names, due dates, requirements and locations slip from the mind every so often. But the memorization tricks outlined in this article should ensure that you never forget stuff that matters.

I used to have a problem with remembering names and faces.

You see, I meet new people every day from around the globe and it’s just too many new names and faces for my mind to register.

But I’ll tell you this:

It’s certainly quite embarrassing to have coffee with somebody and not recognize them the next day.

The problem is that forgetting is such a passive action that you often have no control over it.

Let me explain:

When you forget something, it’s not like you’re actively trying to. It just… happens and that makes it hard to inhibit your forgetfulness.

I mean, how do you stop doing something that you’re not really doing?

So, I just accepted that this is how it is and I’m going to have to live with it.

But several embarrassing encounters later, I’ve consolidated a list of memorizing tips that worked like magic for me.

I’ve used them to overcome my problem of remembering people and their names which has helped me immensely in improving communication and collaboration within and outside of my company.

Now before we dive into the memorization tricks that I wanted to discuss with you, let’s first take a look at how and why we forget.

The Science of Forgetting

In 1885, Hermann Ebbinghaus put forth his theory that outlined the “Forgetting Curve”.[1] This curve shows how much information we retain after a certain amount of time has passed since initially memorizing it.

You might be a bit concerned about how valid this theory is, given that it was initially presented in the 19th century.

But in a 2015 analysis, scientists found that the Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve was completely accurate.[2]

Fascinatingly, the Forgetting Curve shows that just after a day of memorizing something, we remember about 30% of it.

Before we jump into the memorization tricks in this article, I’d first like to explain to you why you forget in the first place. Knowing the root cause of forgetfulness will help you apply the information that you gather.

When you initially learn something, your mind transfers it into the hypothetical short-term memory chamber.

Your brain doesn’t know which piece of information is important and which needs to be discarded. So, it waits for a signal that helps it recognize important pieces of information that it can then shift into the hypothetical long-term memory chamber.

One of the more obvious of such signals is repetition. As shown in the forgetting figure below, repetition can change the shape of the forgetting curve.

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    All the memorization tricks and tips in this article revolve around signaling the importance of memories to your mind so it can move that piece of information from the short-term memory chamber to the long-term one.

    15 Memorization Tricks That Work

    Enough of science; let’s get into the business end of this article. Here are 15 memorization tricks that work:

    1. Say it 3 Times

    This is one of the simplest learning methods that I’ve been using and it seems to yield some great results.

    Make a habit of saying something 3 times as soon as you hear it. This will help you retain that information longer in your brain. In my case, when someone would tell me their name, I’d say it thrice under my breath. This signaled to my brain that this piece of information is important and I’d like to remember it.

    2. Link it to an Established Long-Term Memory

    What if you already have something in your long-term memory that you can link your new piece of information to?

    Imagine this:

    There’s a piece of information that resides deep in your hypothetical long-term memory chamber. Once you claim a new memory, you stick it to the old one.

    What do you think will happen?

    Of course, the new memory will retain better because of the strong memory that you linked it to.

    For instance, people set their 4-digit pin codes for their birthdates (or their spouse’s) all the time. It’s easier to remember because they have an already established link in their mind that’s probably never going to break.

    3. Type Away

    Writing something down is a common memorizing trick that works for many.

    The problem?

    You almost never have a pen and paper close at hand when you need it.

    So here, I decided to go a bit unconventional and use technology to my advantage.

    I started typing notes on my phone that I’d revisit before sleeping.

    A lot of times, I wouldn’t even have to revisit my notes because the mere act of typing them would help me retain that memory.

    But if typing it out doesn’t help, rereading it at night surely will.

    4. Spaced Repetition

    As mentioned above, further research on the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve showed that it’s best to revise a piece of information after a certain amount of time as it helps your mind retain it better.

    Now, what a lot of people do is that they try to repeat or revise a memory as soon as they attain it.

    But research shows that it’s useless to adopt that strategy. The goal isn’t to avoid forgetting that memory; it’s to forget it so you can relearn and solidify its roots in your brain.

    The same research suggested 4 repetitions; around 20 mins, 50 mins, 9 hours and 5 days after memorizing something.[3]

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    But it might not be practical to revisit a memory in that fashion. So, as we recommend in our article on Spaced Repetition, just revise an important memory 24-36 hours after initially learning it and you should see 90% above retention rates.

    5. Grasp the Concept

    Back in college, rote learning never seemed to work for me.

    No matter how many times I’d repeat a phrase and try to learn it by heart, I’d have completely forgotten it by the next day.

    So I tried to memorize the concept, not the words.

    This worked great for me back then and still works well when I’m trying to understand the mechanics of a company or a business.

    6. Interleaved Practice

    If you mix it up, you’ll see better results in memorization.

    Most people, when they’re trying to memorize or learn something, keep working at it until it’s all done or perfect.

    It doesn’t make much sense if you leave a memorization task in the middle right? Wrong!

    Research shows that if you learn two different things at once, you’ll learn them better. This is called interleaved practice.

    Now that are 2 reasons why interleaved practice shows spectacular resuLts:

    Similar memories get mixed up in the brain

    Interleaved practice makes it harder to recall a memory. And the harder the practice session, the better your results!

    7. Use Storytelling

    Without a doubt, storytelling is one of the most powerful skills that one can master.

    And the reason is simple:

    Stories captivate us like nothing else.

    Look at all the forms of entertainment that we have nowadays and you’ll see storytelling in each one of them; movies, songs, music videos, video games, vlogs… the list goes on.

    The reason is simple:

    Our brain is obsessed with stories.

    So the next time you’re trying to memorize something, try creating a story in your head that would help you remember it.

    8. Record Your Audio

    Here’s another fantastic memorizing trick that puts technology to great use.

    When you’re trying to memorize something, just audio record yourself on the phone and listen to it on repeat.

    You don’t need to do this for long. In fact, about 15-20 minutes of listening to yourself should be more than enough.

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    This is especially useful for auditory learners.

    9. Create Parts

    What if I tell you to memorize this number in 20 seconds:

    583957304

    I’m sure that sounds like a daunting task.

    But what about:

    583-957-304

    This looks easier although both numbers are essentially the same.

    The only difference in both numbers is that the second one has two dashes. Now, the dashes themselves aren’t significant. What’s significant is the fact that the dashes break the number into 3 parts.

    When you break the number, it becomes easier to remember. Your brain can then focus on individual parts and consolidate them in the end.

    In fact, this memorization technique is pretty much a setup to trick your mind into thinking the task is easier than it actually is.

    So, the next time you’re learning something extensive, create parts out of it and focus on each part individually.

    10. Focus on Keywords

    I like to use this method in conjunction with “Grasping the Concept”.

    You see, there are just some things that require word-for-word learning.

    And if you’re not good at it, then learning keywords becomes your last option.

    It’s likely that you’ve used this technique if you buy the groceries. All you do is memorize keywords like “6 eggs” but never “buy half a dozen eggs” because the rest of all the words contribute nothing (or very little) to the message.

    11. Say it out Aloud

    Here’s another learning trick for auditory learners:

    Say your words out aloud.

    I’m a firm believer that the more senses you stimulate while learning, the better you’ll learn.

    This means that reading alone (using your visual sense only) is not nearly as effective as speaking your words while you read them because it stimulates your sense of hearing as well.

    Ideally, you’d want to use this technique with writing or typing.

    12. Retain While You Sleep

    Did you know that sleeping could help improve your memory?

    Well, researchers from Matthew P. Walker and Robert Stickgold sure think so. In their research, “Sleep, Memory and Plasticity”, they maintain that sleep has a major role in “memory consolidation” and “memory reconsolidation”.[4].

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    Another research published in Current Opinion in Neurology shows that,[5]

    “Sleep is important for optimal learning.”

    By that logic, memorizing just before you go to sleep is a nice way of strengthening that memory. While you sleep, your brain should work on that memory’s consolidation and reconsolidation.

    Also, it’s important to get a good amount of sleep in for improving memory in general.

    13. Challenge Yourself

    Most people think that memorizing is all about reading and speaking.

    And that’s partly why they aren’t particularly good at it.

    Most of the time, we’re trying to memorize something all day but when the right time comes, our memory fails to support us.

    A good way to eliminate that problem is to test yourself in the middle of the day.

    Challenge yourself in the middle of the day to recall what you’re trying to learn. It doesn’t necessarily need to be in a learning environment. In fact, you could try recalling while you’re in the elevator, having lunch or walking to your office.

    14. Mnemonics

    Mnemonics have been for ages to learn a list of words in order.

    And the only reason why they’ve stood the test of time is that they work.

    In this method, you list out the first letter of each word and then try creating a sentence/phrase out of them that can be memorized.

    A common example is the “Roy G. Biv” mnemonic that’s used to memorize the colors of the rainbow (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet).

    Although recent research on effective learning techniques ranked mnemonics as a low utility learning method, the only reason for that was that mnemonics don’t have a wide variety of applications in general learning.[6]

    However, they work like magic if you’re trying to learn a foreign language or increase vocabulary.

    15. Use a To-Do List App

    The last memorizing trick on our list is to use a To-Do List app.

    A lot of these apps come with the added functionality of displaying your notes on the home screen of your phone.

    A lot of others come with a sticky notification of that note that appears 24/7 on your phone.

    By typing what you want to memorize in that note, you can then read it again every time you use your phone.

    And if you’re anything like the common man, this memorization trick should give you the opportunity to review your memory multiple times in the day.

    If you tend to forget easily, start trying these memorizing tricks. They’ve changed my life and will change yours too!

    More to Boost Your Memory

    Featured photo credit: Sincerely Media via unsplash.com

    Reference

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