On the mnemonic benefits of drawing
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Researchers have long sought to explore means through which the amount, and quality of information one is able to remember can be improved. Attention has been paid variously to multimodal encoding, visual learning, and deep elaborative processing of to-be-remembered information in pursuit of this goal. Drawing is a relatively easily implemented task that engages many of the foregoing, and therefore is an excellent candidate task for systematic exploration. In this dissertation, the efficacy of drawing is explored as a potentially potent, memory-bolstering encoding strategy, and possible explanatory mechanisms are explored. In Chapter II, drawing at encoding is compared to writing, and leads to better free recall. Drawing is also contrasted with other tasks, indicating that the benefit cannot be fully explained by elaborative encoding, visual imagery, or picture superiority. Drawing led to a large boost in free recall in both within- and between-subjects designs, thereby ruling out within-list distinctiveness as a comprehensive explanatory mechanism. In Chapter III, drawing and writing are again compared, this time using recognition task variants, revealing that the memory benefits of drawing are driven primarily by detailed, recollection-based memory. A component model of the benefit drawing provides to memory is proposed, which holds that the effect of drawing is driven by the confluence of three beneficial components required in drawing – an elaborative component, to derive an internal concept of what to draw based on a target word; a motor component, to translate that internal image to the page using a specific manual motor program; and a pictorial component, derived from one’s newly created depiction of the original target word. In Chapter IV, this component model is tested using tasks which systematically do or do not require each of the requisite components of the drawing process. Results indicate that each component is an important contributor to the benefit, and that memory performance scales up as the number of components increases. Taken together, the experiments presented herein indicate that drawing is a potent encoding task which improves memory through the provision, and integration of rich contextual information from at least three multisensory components.
Cite this work
Jeffrey Wammes (2017). On the mnemonic benefits of drawing. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/12114