O'Reilly logo

The Trainer's Handbook by Karen Lawson

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

Chapter 9Using Visual Aids

Retention Rate in Visual Learning

In a landmark paper entitled The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information (still cited by today's educators), the author discusses his research and concludes that most people retain between five and nine bits of information in short-term memory (Miller, 1956). Because short-term memory decays in a matter of seconds, presenters, educators, and trainers must find ways to “fix” information presented in long-term memory and thus increase retention. One way of doing that is through the use of visual aids. Visual aids play an important role in helping participants retain information; however, they should never take the place of good training.

Before exploring other reasons for using them and specific examples, let's take a look at the classic research supporting the use of visual aids.

The 3M® Company sponsored the two most often quoted presentation-related research studies, one with the Wharton School's Applied Research Center (Oppenheim, 1981) and one with the University of Minnesota's Management Information Systems Research Center (Vogel, Dickson, and Lehman, 1986), to look at the impact of visuals on business presentations and meetings. The results of these studies support ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required