How Visuals Help Us Learn

Since we talked yesterday about the plethora of different types of visuals available to present information, we thought it might be useful to take a look at why visuals are useful as classroom tools, and some do-s and don’t-s of using visuals. Enter the handy infographic below. While this particular visual isn’t necessarily geared towards teachers, the concepts can be applied easily both in the classroom and in the professional development arena (and otherwise). What would you add to the do-s and don’t-s list? Weigh in by leaving a comment below, mentioning @Edudemic on Twitter or leaving your thoughts on our Facebook page.

How Visuals Help Us Learn

  • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual
  • The brain can process 36,000 visual cues in an hour
  • The brain takes about 1/10th of a second to get the idea of a visual scene
  • Almost 50% of your brain is involved in visual processing
  • Black and white images garner your attention for about 2/3 of a second
  • Color images garner your attention for 2+ seconds
  • The average consumer’s attention span is only about 8 seconds
  • The brain processes visual cues 60,000 times faster than text
  • 40% of nerve fibers are linked to the retina
  • The use of visuals improves learning outcomes by about 400%

A Few Do-s and Don’t-s When Using Visuals

  • DO use visuals to help clarify complex ideas
  • DO use visuals that represent people, places, and things
  • DO use catchy visuals
  • DO use visuals that help viewers make connections and understand new information
  • DO use visuals that help viewers relate new information to what they already know
  • DON’T use poor quality visuals, like things that are pixelated, stretched weird, sized improperly, or don’t fit in the space
  • DON’T use ugly visuals
  • DON’T use visuals that don’t make a clear connection to the material presented
  • DON’T use irrelevant visuals, like a series of shapes that have no meaning
  • DON’T use copyrighted visuals without permission


1 Comment

  1. Laraine Flemmung

    August 19, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Claims like this need to be sourced, iike how does the writer know the attention span for black and white visuals is less than for color. If the content is complex in black and white and simpler for color, I’ll bet that changes the brain’s reaction. Maybe I’m wrong but if there were actual sources for this information, I might be able to verify or disprove my assumption. But right now, I’m not convinced by anything said here.