A new study published in Cognitive Science by researchers at Dartmouth suggests that children and students of all ages learn better when they are shown an object before it is described to them.
For their study, researchers knowingly gave volunteers convoluted instructions asking them to learn the names of three fictional figures: “yosh,” “wug,” and “niz.”
They tried two different methods. In the first, called “object-label learning,” students were able to see the object first and were then provided with a label.
For the second method, called “label-object learning,” students were given the information in the reverse order.
Participants were then asked to match the pictures of the characters with their names.
“The results of the study indicate that students who see objects first and then hear the name – object-label learners – process inconsistent information better than learners who hear the name first and then see the object,” the study’s authors said in a statement.
Researchers say the findings could be beneficial in teaching children about colours or languages and could also assist students who are attempting to master complex theories.
“When trying to teach a child about colours, such as blue or red, not many people think about the best way to do it. People just say this is blue and point to an object,” Timmy Ma, a research associate at Dartmouth and an author of the study, said in a statement.
“From this research, we can say that the order of presentation actually matters and that seeing the object first creates a stronger association to the name.”
The findings add to existing evidence that people of all ages better absorb information when using the object-label learning approach.
“Understanding how the learning process occurs, and what factors affect it, may help instructors improve methodologies of education,” Ma said.
The complete paper can be found online.