Picture This: Harness the Power of Dual Coding by @rhcaseby

According to dual-coding theory, we process visual and verbal information via different routes and can recall that information using either route. Information initially presented in both formats is, therefore more likely to be recalled.

This technique can readily be adapted to teaching by linking text-based information with a photo, diagram, icon or other images. It’s important that the image used can be readily associated with the textual information – if the link is unclear an association will not form and retention and recall may actually be reduced.

I have experimented with this technique in my teaching of psychology. One aspect that many students find difficult is linking researchers with key research studies, so I introduced more photos of researchers into my teaching in the following ways:

  • Including pictures of researchers with descriptions of their work and research findings
  • Adding visual cues when we were thinking about the significance of their research findings in class
  • Linking images to show researchers were influenced by the work of others.

Did this work? Well, comparing the responses of students to 12 mark questions this year and last, there was an increase in accurate references linking researchers to studies/theories of around 40%, so it did seem to help. I do think it’s a strategy that can be applied to any subject with similar requirements; why not give it a try?


@rhcaseby Vice Principal – Oxford

This article originally appeared in the September 2016 edition of UKEdMagazine

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