The Department of Education reports that as of Fall 2017 there were 50.7 million public school students and 3.2 million full-time teachers in the United States. This presents challenges in the ways students are learning, what they are learning and how fast. Incorporating new learning methods based on visuals can help bridge the gap between a teachers availability and a students success.

Science and engineering are two of the top industries in the country. The careers in these fields range from doctors and surgeons to scientists. Among the world’s 40 most advanced countries, the United States ranks number 38 in graduating science majors. According to data from the U.S. Department of Labor, just 5% of U.S. workers are employed in fields related to science and engineering. Despite this, these workers are responsible for an estimated 50% of the country’s economic growth.

Visuals Help Learn and Retain Information

Since about 65% of students are considered to be visual learners, the use of today’s technology can help improve learning skills. Visual aids are those devices which are used in classrooms to encourage students learning process and make it easier and interesting. Videos, charts and graphs have long been a way to quickly relay information in a simplified way. In modern times, resources have expanded to interactive learning alongside standard visuals. Visual aids are the best tool for making teaching effective and the best reinforcement of knowledge.

According to Larry Cuban, visual aids are beneficial because:

  • 1% of what is learned is from TASTE
  • 1.5% of what is learned is from TOUCH
  • 3.5% of what is learned is from SMELL
  • 11% of what is learned is from HEARING
  • 83% of what is learned is from SIGHT
  • Benefits of Visual Aids in Education:

    • helps retain information
    • provide examples for conceptual thinking
    • creates environment of interest for students
    • increases vocabulary
    • provide direct experience to the students

    Examples of Educational Visuals

    “What Is…” Guides
    A “What is Guide” can explain just about anything. Today, typing “what is…this” into google can get you a range of results and may include photos. If you type in “what is smokers mouth”, for example, you may get some unpleasant photos. The same goes for other search words. Using the internet to find out what something is solidifies the visual, it’s meaning or purpose.
    Charts and Graphs
    These visuals are longstanding and proven beneficial in a variety of fields. An anatomy course may display a female anatomy chart with female reproductive anatomy labeled; Fitness and health courses may include a meal portion plate or exercise calorie chart with recommended meals. The kinds of graphs and charts depend on the kind of teaching.
    Health Education Products
    Health education goes hand in hand with science and engineering. These fields can be challenging, and the consumption of information can be overwhelming. Visuals are often used in health education and with today’s technology, interactive educational tools are on the rise.

    The American Diabetes Association Create Your Plate tool is a great example of interactive health education. Create Your Plate is a simple, online and interactive way to manage your glucose levels and even lose weight. It allows you to create a meal plan using an interactive diabetic portion control plate. Using this virtual diabetic portion control plate can ensure stable blood glucose levels and promote a health weight.

    For this method, you fill the diabetic portion control plate by clicking on one of three sections. Each section has a color that supports a certain dietary staple: protein (25%), grains (25%), non-starch vegetables (50%). Once you’ve clicked a section, you can choose from a variety of foods. Once chosen, a photo of that food appears on the virtual diabetic portion control plate alongside a description. You can do this as many times as you like by resetting the plate.

    Since we learn using many of our senses at once, industries are changing the way they present information to us. What was once all textbooks and chalkboards is now video and virtual. In order to remain competitive, we must encourage visual learning and increase the resources needed for students to consume and retain information.