6 Benefits of Visual Learning

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According to a National Library of Medicine study, 65% of the population are visual learners. This is a whopping amount, though it is not very surprising, since one of our most well-stimulated senses is that of vision.

As such, it is no wonder that most people learn a great deal about the world around them through visual aids. Since most people are visual learners, there must be significant advantages, at least evolutionarily, to visual learning.

The idea of this article is to deeply look into some of the vast benefits of visual learning, like videos, diagrams, graphs, charts, etc, and then look into the potential benefits of incorporating visuals into learning to increase their efficacy.

1. Help Store Information Longer

Through visual learning, our brains have the propensity to link ideas with instructive visuals, which aids the storage of those ideas in long-term memory — rather than storing them in short-term memory.

The benefits of visual aids and visual learning styles have been assessed throughout time. In 1969, Edgar Dale, one of the most influential educators and the developer of the Cone of Experience, found that visual and verbal learning leads to 80% retention rates 3 hours after teaching, and 65% retention 3 days after teaching. (Graphic courtesy of Changing Minds)

Further, the field of psychology also throws its own weight behind these claims. Our memory works based on priming or recalling information based on specific cues. When we integrate certain concepts with certain visual cues and elements, the moment we start recalling those cues, the entire concept comes together in our head.

That is why it is no surprise that visual content helps in retaining information for longer.

2. Make Communication Quicker And Simpler

Can you imagine numerous images passing you in a split second, and yet you are able to identify them? When given such a brief viewing window, it may seem impossible to positively identify any of the images presented to you.

However, a group of MIT neuroscientists recently discovered that the human brain can interpret whole images that the eye sees in as little as 13 milliseconds.

While 13 milliseconds was the extreme end of the spectrum, and to actually recognize images with more precision would require a tad bit longer, there is no doubt that visuals are a great way to communicate and do so fast.

It is, no doubt, the fastest way to communicate and, as such, holds immense potential to speed up learning processes if integrated correctly.

3. Aid Better Comprehension

A study conducted by Richard Mayer found that using images to convey information improves a person’s ability to recall facts or key steps by an average of 23 percent. This is a clear sign that using visuals to aid in learning substantially increases one’s ability to comprehend it.

Here’s how Mayer’s Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning can be visualized:

Additionally, when text and graphics are combined, retention increases to 42 percent. This again tells the same story that words alone are not enough, and people must be helped to vividly imagine what we want to teach them or tell them.

When we stop to think of why some of the best marketing efforts have been so visual in nature, it makes further sense still. There is just something about visuals that gets the message across. The old adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” adds further credence to this theory.

4. Act As Stimulators For Emotions

The area of the brain responsible for storing and retrieving visual memories is also responsible for processing and expressing emotions. There is a tight connection between what we see, how we feel, and the process of remembering.

As a result, the things we see have the power to evoke emotional responses in us, and we have a tendency to remember the associations between strong feelings and specific visual stimuli quite clearly.

And it’s not only about eliciting powerful reactions; even little emotional involvement with the learning material can raise our attentiveness and spike our interest in the subject.

Accordingly, images that appeal to our emotions can significantly enhance our ability to retain information. However, our minds are more inclined to tune out content that has any emotional resonance.

5. They Drive Motivation for Learning

Visuals are far superior to text when it comes to capturing students’ interest, keeping their attention, and inspiring them to learn.

Because 65% of people, as we discussed in the beginning, learn best through seeing things, pictures with important info are at the receiving end of a lot of a learner’s curiosity and attention. When the pictures convey something important, the learner spends more time gazing at it than looking at a similar text conveying the same message.

This insight can help those designing online courses add more narration and visuals to pique learners’ interest.

The battle is not only visuals versus text. A National Library of Medicine study shows that the number of visual learners is as high as 80% when compared to the number of verbal learners among college students. Here’s the topographical map of a visual learner and a non-visual learner:

This is also especially true, as students will only readily agree. They like teachers who write on the board and explain things visually, rather than just droning on in their monotonous voice.

Final Thoughts: The Need for Visual Learning

We have just seen five great reasons why visual learning is really powerful. There is no doubt that it should be integrated into our daily learning practices to make the most of them.

However, it is important to remember that visuals are not meant to be utilized merely for their aesthetic value, but rather to represent certain thoughts and objects, to break down and clarify difficult ideas, and to establish links between previously unrelated ideas.

Moreover, while visuals are good, it is important to understand that visuals don’t always carry depth. They are just a great way of conveying a simple concept, or of conveying a simplified version of a complex concept. To get the nuances of an issue, visuals alone may not be enough but might need pairing with more traditional things like text.

Nevertheless, when applied with care and purpose, visual learning can have a significant impact on learning and is something that all educational institutes should try to use on a daily basis. especially in the age of online learning.

Sohom Mukherjee

Written by

Sohom Mukherjee

Hey, I’m Sohom, a passionate writer and an avid reader. I enjoy winds on rooftops, long walks, and moments where I learn something new. I find learning about trends in various industries fascinating, so I love to put together industry reports for Elite Content Marketer.