kitchen table math, the sequel: "relative effectiveness of the primary senses"

Monday, July 23, 2007

"relative effectiveness of the primary senses"

Some of you may remember this anecdote from the old site:

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

WE LEARN:
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!

source:
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.

13 comments:

Doug Sundseth said...

In a thread a few days ago, I mentioned "German irregular verbs" as one of the things I learned by rote and that I still remember. The way I learned them was that my teacher would begin each class with a group recitation, in alphabetical order, of each verb in turn.

I can still hear that recitation thirty years later.

Catherine Johnson said...

In a thread a few days ago, I mentioned "German irregular verbs" as one of the things I learned by rote and that I still remember.

Which thread was that??

I have to catch up - !

Catherine Johnson said...

I absolutely believe this.

I was taught phonics in 2nd grade by an old-school spinster teacher who had also taught my dad.

She had us stand in the class and recite syllables. This is DEEPLY imprinted in my brain; I can still hear the class chanting; I can see it in my mind's eye.

"bla - ble - bli- blo - blu"

We'd chant the vowels, the short ones as I recall, with different consonant blends.

Catherine Johnson said...

I can still hear that recitation thirty years later.

Me, too.

It's not going away, EVER.

Catherine Johnson said...

The Precision Teaching material is revelatory, btw.

Can't wait to get it posted.

Catherine Johnson said...

I've also discovered two brilliant books on writing instruction.

Incredible.

Buried treasure.

KarenA said...

We were in Kansas last week visiting family and while we were there, I visited with M., a friend of my mom's who will be 90 years old this fall. (I'm writing a poem about her in honor of her 90th birthday.)

M attended first through 8th grade at a one room country school house. (She went to town for high school.) There were approximately 15-20 kids at the school and the teacher was responsible for teaching all 8 grades and all subjects.

M mentioned that she didn't remember there being any disciplinary problems; when the teacher was having one group of kids recite, the others would be doing their work. She specifically used the word, "recite."

KarenA said...

I also happen to think the technique of reciting out loud is very effective. Another way in which it can be effective is that when you say something out loud, you begin to realize where your own gaps are in what you think you know and what you actually know.

KarenA said...

Speaking of "Animals in Translation," I finished the book while we were on vacation. I had check the book out from our local library, but it's a book I want to own, so purchasing a copy is on my "To Do" list.

Put simply, the book is outstanding. I have been promising Catherine that I would attempt to collect my thoughts about the effect of discovery learning on high-anxiety kids, and a passage in the book about high-anxiety animals provides a relevant analogy. So, I will try to get something posted about that in the next day or two.

Jenny D. said...

Hmm, I think that Ken Spencer left out writing.

You can thinking of listening and talking as receptive and broadcast forms of oral language, and reading and writing as the same for printed language.

So Ken addresses listening, talking, and reading....but not writing.

An omission I think.

linsee said...

. . . and 83 percent of all the statistics you see are made up (even if these unlikely numbers are correct, how would anybody know?)

Tracy said...

I think reciting things works because you are forced to pay attention to what you are saying.

I use it quite a bit when I want to memorise something.

SusanS said...

Catherine,

When I go to Amazon and look at the Why Johnny Can't Write book, the cover appears to be something else. Is that right?

I'm a tad confused.