My sister-in-law is a federal prosecutor in Philadelphia. One day we were talking about learning styles. Pace Dan Willingham, I don't believe in learning styles, but since everyone else does I don't automatically launch into a cognitive science lecture when the subject comes up.
So we were talking about learning styles, and I said something about visual learning styles, and my sister-in-law said, "Everyone has a visual learning style."
"That's the first thing they tell you about presenting evidence to juries. If you want the jury to remember what you've said, you have to give them a visual."
I know she's right about this because..... because I just know. Visual memory was a topic Temple and I never managed to nail down while writing Animals in Translation. Memory for things visual is strong; that much we knew. But we couldn't figure out the research basis for this belief, or how exactly it related to the book's thesis or to the visual thinking of autistic people and animals.
A loose thread.
Ken Spencer's books posted online
Sunday I came across the books Temple and I needed: Media & Technology in Education (1966) and The Psychology of Educational and Instructional Media (199). Both look terrific, and both are posted in full.
This chart appears on page 1 of Chapter 5: Media and Technology in Education: Theory and Practice:
Figure 5-1. The Relative Effectiveness of the Primary Senses
1.0% THROUGH TASTE
1.5% THROUGH TOUCH
3.5% THROUGH SMELL
11.0% THROUGH HEARING
83.0% THROUGH SIGHT
PEOPLE GENERALLY REMEMBER:
10% OF WHAT THEY READ
20% OF WHAT THEY HEAR
30% OF WHAT THEY SEE
50% OF WHAT THEY SEE AND HEAR
70% OF WHAT THEY SAY AS THEY TALK
90% OF WHAT THEY SAY AS THEY DO A THING!
Media and Technology in Education: Theory & Practice
by Ken Spencer
Chapter 5: Human Information Processing and the Audiovisual Approach to Education Educational (pdf file)
Assuming this is right, and I think it is, it explains a lot.
For one thing, it accounts for some of the effectiveness of peer tutoring and collaborative learning.
What's going on in peer tutoring and collaborative learning? Talking out loud!*
When I gave the list to Ed he said, "That's why you learn so much from teaching. I never forget anything I've taught."
True for me, too.
I always thought that was because having to teach a subject forced you to organize it in your own mind, which I'm sure is true. But part of the effect probably stems from the simple fact that you're talking out loud.
Remember the Commenter who suggested I have C. teach math to me?
We're starting tomorrow.
* The book Why Johnny Can't Write has fascinating material on talking-out-loud as a study technique. Will get to that at some point.