Graphic Organizers: You (and Your Child’s) New Best Friend

Everyone learns differently–and that’s okay. Nevertheless, this is a fact that can make it challenging to figure out what learning methods work best for each child. Good news: if you’ve got a middle schooler under your roof, recent research shows that he or she will likely benefit greatly from graphic organizers.

In a recent study, two experiments were conducted. 

In experiment one, a group of middle schoolers were divided into three groups and tasked with reading some material–each group in a different format: text-only, filled-in graphic organizers, and interactive graphic organizers. Eye trackers recorded the student’s eye movements during the learning experience, and afterward they were tested for comprehension and retention. The result? The children in both graphic organizer groups significantly outperformed those who consumed the information via the text-only format on both retention and comprehension tests.

In experiment two, another group of middle schoolers were asked to read through different materials of the same varieties as above (text-only, filled-in graphic organizers, and interactive organizers) and rank them in order of their favorite to least favorite. Their rankings went like this:

  1. Interactive Graphic Organizers
  2. Filled-In Graphic Organizers
  3. Text-Only

So what do these results tell us? Well, not only do students enjoy using graphic organizers, but they also seem to both better understand and retain the information learned when using them–especially interactive graphic organizers. The reason? Likely because the graphic organizers highlight the most important ideas posed by the text, thus helping them filter out the less crucial information.

Next time you’re in a rut with helping your child learn a new topic–and even if not, give graphic organizers a try! See if they improve both their learning experience and outcome.

Wang, X., Mayer, R. E., Zhou, P., & Lin, L. (2021). Benefits of interactive graphic organizers in online learning: Evidence for generative learning theory. Journal of Educational Psychology, 113(5), 1024–1037. 

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