Listeners to BBC Radio Four this morning heard a report that a new study by researchers at Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) discovered comics are a better educational resource than traditional textbooks.
“We found that the use of comic books actually enables students to better remember information. Our research showed that the students that read a comic book version got more memory questions correct compared to when the same information was presented in text format alone – or in a combination of random images and text.
This shows that the way comic books are structured – to include a special combination of words and pictures in a certain sequence – increases students’ ability to remember information.”
The key word in the section above is “remember”. The purpose of a user guide is not necessarily to get the reader to remember, but to solve their problem. We want them back working as quickly as possible. Indeed, one of the key principles of Minimalism is “Support reading to do, study, and locate”.
Having said that, there are some interesting findings in the study:
“There are good theoretical reasons why comics might be better at imparting information to students. A lot of which has to do with what the influential cognitive psychologist, Allan Paivio, called “dual-coding theory”. This is the idea that we deal better with material which is presented in both a verbal and a visual manner.”
This means good layout and using graphics will help the readers of user guides.
Certainly for learning materials, comics can be very useful. Indeed, we’ve created a number ourselves.
What has been your experience of using this medium?
Cherryleaf’s policies and procedures course teaches your staff how to write clear and effective policies and procedures, in a straightforward and efficient way. It is popular with staff from charities and the NHS, although it will benefit many writers of policies and procedures.
Our next public course will be on the 6th March 2017.
Discover the advanced new writing styles emerging in technical communication by attending Cherryleaf’s popular training course. Don’t get left behind: past clients include technical communicators from Citrix, GE, IBM UK, Lloyds Banking Group, Sage plc, Schlumberger, Tekla and Visa International.
The next public classroom course will be held on Wednesday 29th March 2017 at our training centre in central London (WC2R).
For overseas clients, we will hold a class live over the web (on 22nd and 23rd March), if there sufficient interest.
We’ve started work on the next course to be added to the WriteLessons bundle of online training courses – “Reviewing and Editing Technical Documents”. In this situation, we may try an experiment and release each module as it is completed, rather than publish all the modules in one go.
The modules will be: revising, editing, copy editing, proof-reading, getting documents edited, possibly measuring the effectiveness of documents, and managing updates. More news when we have it.