Doodling to Better Recall

by Trudy on February 1, 2014

I noticed something recently upon a visit into an art room class – the “notes” for the class were written up in a very visual graphic presentation, a series of doodles and words if you will, full of colour. It was compelling and I found my attention continuously being drawn to it, away beyond the speaker’s meandering vocal presentation.

It got me thinking about the value of doodling and visual notes. Confession: I am an obsessive note taker, and occasional doodler. Why? Because it keeps me fully engaged and attentive to even the most dry meetings. It seems my progeny has inherited the doodle bug, coming home from school with sometimes elaborate doodles that he worked on through the day. (As an aside, the kid can forget throughout the day his pencil/calculator/binder/etc. but NEVER the developing doodle page – interesting.)

I thought I should look into this more, as I truly needed to understand if doodling is a constructive or distracting activity.

Turns out that doodling is actually PRODUCTIVE!

Research by Jackie Andrade in 2009 suggested that people who doodled had BETTER retention and recall.

Participants monitored a monotonous mock telephone message for the names of people coming to a party. Half of the group was randomly assigned to a ‘doodling’ condition where they shaded printed shapes while listening to the telephone call. The doodling group performed better on the monitoring task and recalled 29% more information on a surprise memory test. Unlike many dual task situations, doodling while working can be beneficial.

So be proud with your doodle, in fact the more you make your notes graphically more interesting, the more you will remember.

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