Drawing to remember

The BPS research digest recently featured a study that investigated
children's reports of factual and narrative information after a visit to a museum. The children were six years old and, perhaps of no surprise to parents, the children were able to recall a large amount of information. Of particular interest is that they could remember significantly more when they drew at the same time as retelling their trip to the museum. In fact, they were able to remember twice as much factual information when drawing.

Some of the 'drawing' effect was put down to the subconscious verbal encouragement given to children by adults while they were drawing. Drawing could also be acting as a motivator and provide memory clues.

Despite recalling lots of information, the children performed relatively poorly in a traditional comprehension test of 12 questions. One explanation is that the children were interested in different aspects of the same phenomena from adults (something that is known from research elsewhere) and the adults made up the test.

As well as highlighting the value of taking children to museums, there is a strong message in this research in terms of methods for assessing and supporting children's learning.

Gross, J., Hayne, H., & Drury, T. (2009). Drawing facilitates children's reports of factual and narrative information: implications for educational contexts. Applied Cognitive Psychology23(7), 953-971.

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