Sunni Brown's TED talk from March, 2011.

It is worth noting that not all the research done on doodling suggests a positive effect. In 2012, Elaine Chan of the University of British Columbia found that for visual recall, doodling seemed to have a negative effect. Chan suggested a variety of plausible reasons for this result, the most likely being that “the main visual recall task required visual processing by the brain, [as did the doodling task, and so] performance on the recall of images was impaired [due to the split in attention].”

Certainly, we are just beginning to explore the connection between doodling and learning, and there is far more research to be done on the potential value of “meaningless marks.” That being said, the implications of these first few studies really are fascinating in that they imply incredible potential for the use of doodling as a way to help learners to process and retain certain kinds of information. Doodling should not be flatly discouraged, but rather, looked upon as one potential avenue for real growth as educators deduce the best methods for helping students to learn the vital skills that will help them succeed in the future.

Cover photo by Vincent Mace. Published under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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