Improve learning and retention of flashcard info

by rickcolosimo on October 25, 2010

So many, many flashcards and pictures around our classroom (what the unitiated refer to as our “playroom”) fill bins and bins, sorted into ziplock bags.

This Lifehacker article suggests that using a slightly more unusual font, such as Comic Sans MS or Bodoni MT, had 14% greater retention, even at different font sizes.

One group was given the lists in 16-point Arial pure black font, which is generally regarded to be easy and clear to read.

The other had the same information presented in either 12-point Comic Sans MS 75% greyscale font or 12-point Bodoni MT 75% greyscale.

The volunteers were distracted for 15 minutes, and then tested on how much they could remember.

Researchers found that, on average, those given the harder-to-read fonts actually recalled 14% more.

The original BBC article has a picture comparing the typefaces used in the Princeton study.

I think this would make a great master’s thesis project for an aspiring BCBA. The ease of changing fonts for new materials is so tiny that a 14% gain is literally like thousands of dollars of free therapy!

With as much detail as great therapists put into breaking down tasks, responses, prompts, SDs, reinforcement, motivation, and everything else that is concentrated into each teaching-learning interaction, why wouldn’t we now start paying attention to something a whole lot easier to fix?

I hope to see a standard on this develop over the next year here in Northern NJ.

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