13 Oct 2012 Cartooning Your Study Notes
It’s October and if you’re a student, that can only mean one thing: mid-terms.
Like many students in high school, I hated memorizing facts. I tried study groups, recording my notes on tape (it was the 90s!), flash cards, and memorizing lecture notes with my eyes closed. But I still found studying time-consuming and BORING.
One night I was frustrated and thoroughly bored by pages and pages of notes on the French Revolution and Napoleon. So I started drawing cartoons.
I drew a cartoon of the code Napoleon established: a wife could own property with a husband’s written consent, abolishment of feudalism, fathers could imprison children, etc. I discovered I could easily recall my drawings, more so than when I memorized text.
In university I faced vast amounts of material, assignments, and deadlines. Time became precious and I found that cartooning bits and pieces of my notes was more efficient. I was actually saving time because studying my cartoons was easier.
You don’t have to be skilled at drawing to cartoon your notes – stick figures will do! Nor do you have to cartoon all of your notes. If you find dates difficult to remember, draw a cartoon to help you remember the significance.
By incorporating cartoons into your studying process you’ll absorb the information quicker because the majority of us are primarily visual learners (Robert Horn, Stanford University). The act of drawing also engages those of us who learn kinetically – learn by doing – because you’re creating something while learning.
Research also shows that the simple act of doodling & cartooning during your studying helps focus the mind. A Plymouth University study performed a memory test on 40 volunteers. The volunteers were asked to listen to a rather boring two-minute phone call. They weren’t told there would be a memory test afterwards.
Half the volunteers were asked to doodle during the phone call. The other half was free to do what they liked. At the end of the call the groups were asked to recall eight names and eight places that were mentioned during the call. The people who doodled remembered 7.5 of the names while those who didn’t only remembered 5.8.
It’s clear that by cartooning your notes you’ll improve information retention and you might even (gasp!) enjoy your study time. For people who have difficulties studying, this could be the difference between a C and an A. Give it a try!