Moving Away From Lectures: Visual Learning Supports New Learning Models

Venn Diagram in Inspiration

Scientific studies support many different ways of working with students to enhance learning. In one recent study that was published in Science Magazine, Louis Deslauriers and his colleagues found that learning focused around problem solving, discussion and group work had a higher level of engagement and more than twice the learning and comprehension compared to lecture-based instruction.1

Learn More About the Study
Deslauriers’ study found that students who were only lectured scored considerably lower than students who also received Deliberate Practice instruction, which removes lecturing and focuses on “problem solving, discussion and group work.”2 Deslauriers broke 850 undergraduate, engineering students in the study into smaller groups. For the first 11 weeks, all of the students received traditional lectures. In the last week, several groups received Deliberate Practice instruction. At the end of the course, all of the students were asked to participate in a voluntary exam. The lectured students scored an average of 41 percent and the students who received Deliberate Practice Instruction scored an average of 74 percent.2 Striking.

  • Students who received only lectures scored an average of 41 percent on the exam.
  • Students who also received Deliberate Practice instruction scored an average of 74 percent on the exam.2

Apply Deliberate Practice to Your Classroom
Let’s talk more about the Deliberate Practice model. According to an article on the ASCD website titled, “What Teachers Gain from Deliberate Practice” by Robert Marzano, Deliberate Practice “involves more than just repetition; it requires activities that are designed to improve performance, challenge the learner, and provide feedback.”3 In the study, this included activities such as problem solving, communication and collaboration in a group to learn and understand the new material.

Integrate Visual Learning Into Deliberate Practice Models
In Marzano’s section in the article on “Helping Students Interact With New Knowledge”, he mentions the following practices that can be improved with visual thinking and learning tools:3

  • Identify Critical Information
    Brainstorming visually can help students identify information and then assess how important and relevant it is.
  • Organize and Chunk New Information Into “Bites”
    Visual mapping on the computer with tools like Inspiration®, Kidspiration® and Webspiration Classroom™ service facilitates the organization and chunking of information into manageable bites. Once students brainstorm, rearrange and group their ideas, structuring their work is easy.
  • Elaborate On New Information
    Once students develop a visual map, adding information or expanding upon the topic is easy. Students can then add notes and embed URLs to source information. Once students are ready to begin writing, they can convert their visual diagram into an outline with just the click of a button with Inspiration Software’s visual learning tools.
  • Revise Knowledge
    After students have created a visual diagram, it is easy to identify errors or gaps in thinking by stepping back from the diagram and seeing it as a whole. Visually students can identify areas that need more development in order to further build out the problem areas with additional information. In reviewing the diagrams, students can also see where connections need to be changed. With visual mapping tools on the computer, it is easy to add, remove, change and expand upon your thinking.
  • Examine Similarities and Differences
    One of the best ways to see and understand similarities and differences is by creating a Venn Diagram. Inspiration offers Venn Diagram templates that you may adjust and alter for your classroom activity. In Kidspiration, students can also use the SuperGrouper® to create Venn Diagrams. Comparing two ideas can help students better comprehend new ideas or even strengthen an argument. Doing this visually improves the process, by making it easy to see in one picture what is much harder to describe with words and paragraphs.

Use Inspiration, Kidspiration and Webspiration Classroom With Deliberate Practice Models
Kidspiration, Inspiration and Webspiration Classroom help you and your students achieve the critical thinking and learning skills discussed above. In addition, Webspiration Classroom can help to facilitate collaboration and group discussions to take visual learning a step further in fulfilling the goals of the Deliberate Practice model.

What do you think of Deslauriers’ study on Deliberate Practice? See you next time!

Mona Westhaver
President and Co-founder, Inspiration Software

Mona Westhaver, President and Co-founder of Inspiration® Software, Inc., has more than 30 years’ experience in visual thinking, systems thinking, and educational learning tools and technology. She has a passion for helping people learn to clarify thinking and feelings and to communicate knowledge and views in a positive way.
Mona Westhaver
View all posts by Mona Westhaver
  1. “Improved Learning in a Large-Enrollment Physics Class.” Science. Web. 15 June 2011. <>. []
  2. “Teaching Methods: An Alternative Vote | The Economist.” The Economist – World News, Politics, Economics, Business & Finance. Web. 15 June 2011. <>. [] [] []
  3. “Educational Leadership:The Effective Educator:What Teachers Gain from Deliberate Practice.” Membership, Policy, and Professional Development for Educators – ASCD. Web. 15 June 2011. <>. [] []

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to RSS Feed Follow us on Twitter!