Strange Fonts and Tests; The Best Ways of Learning New Things
It has been discovered that the harder the font is to read, the better will one memorize the text. It seems that the popular Comic Sans is one of the most beneficial fonts, as they can help one memorize the texts much better. The researchers tested this both in the laboratory in a controlled environment, and in the real classrooms. It is believed that the students have to work harder in order to read the texts, and the brain believes that the information is very important, so it memorizes it much better. Connor Diemand-Yauman was the one who conducted the study, and he said that he was pleasantly surprised by the discovery. Prior to this point it was believed that we memorize better the things which are easier to learn, but it seems that the reality is quite the opposite. We tend to forget those things much easier, and we will memorize the things which are harder to read much better. It has been discovered that the more we struggle with the texts, the easier it is to learn them.
This can be applied to the texts written in certain fonts, or even to texts that have words with missing letters. It is easier to read words which have missing letters because our brains fill in the blanks very fast, faster than it takes us to read the whole word. It has also been discovered that in order to be able to read a word, all we need is the first and the last letter to be placed in the proper order. If the other letters, the ones from the middle of the word are scrambles, we will still be able to read the word without any difficulties. Dieman-Yauman used this information in order to see if the same concept can be applied to the texts which have unusual fonts and which are harder to read. In order to test this, they wrote a story about three alien species which they invented, and they gave the texts to 28 students. Each of the species had a very strange name which was kind of difficult to memorize. Each of these species had seven physical traits. The volunteers had to memorize the name of the species and as many physical characteristics of these species as they could in 90 seconds. Some of the texts were written in common fonts such as Arial or Times New Roman, whereas some of them were written in unusual ones such as Comic Sans or Bodini.
Once the 90 seconds were over, the researchers tried to distract the volunteers for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes they tested them to see what they could remember from the story. It has been discovered that the ones who read the texts written in Comic Sans were able to memorize 15 percent more words than the ones who read them in regular fonts. However, the test does not mean that the same concepts can be applied to a more through study, as there is a great difference between studying for 15 minutes about invented aliens, than it is to study for 2 hours about Dostoyevsky for example. In order to see if the same concepts would be applicable in real life, the researchers asked six different teachers, specialized in different domains such as honors physics, advanced placement English, honors chemistry, honors English, regular physics, and honors U.S. history to share papers with texts about their subjects in both common and strange fonts. The researchers chose the following strange fonts: Haettenschweiler, which is characterized by the fact that it is very crowded, Monotype Corsiva, which is very cursive, and Comic Sans Italicized which is very rounded. All of these can be written, but the act of reading them requires more focus.
The researchers also made blurry copies after the regular texts wrote on paper, as they could not change the fonts since they were not electronic. 222 students participated to the study which lasted between 2 and 4 weeks, depending on the class. Some of them got the texts in regular fonts whereas some got them in one of those three strange fonts. Just like in the other experiment, it was discovered that the ones who read the texts written in the unusual fonts were able to memorize them much better. After the study was concluded, the researchers asked the students if they were bothered by the fonts of the texts, and they said that they were not, as they did not even sense the difference. The researchers have stated that this is an excellent way of making the students learn more things, and this approach is very cheap. The texts can be changed with a few clicks, and it should be a shame not to do it. The researchers have stated that the fonts should not be too difficult to read, for example they should not be written in Wingdings, as the students will not be able to learn anything.
The task is not to decipher the text, but to struggle a little bit more to read it. Besides this method of helping the students learn more in school there is another one, which they might not find so enjoyable. The tests, despised by each student are used by the teachers for a purpose. It has been discovered that the brain is capable of memorizing more things during the tests than through reading alone, so this is the reasons why teachers test their students. They do not do it to punish the students, as many of them would believe. The researchers have stated that the students should be glad that they receive tests instead of being bothered by them, but the chances for such a thing to happen are very slim. Mary Pyc, a postdoctoral fellow at Washington University in St. Louis, was the one who conducted the study. He said that the students should test themselves at home as well, as they will be able to memorize things much better in this manner. Tests are usually given in order to track the progress of the students, but it has been discovered that the act of trying to remember something you have once studied will make you remember those things much easier.
It is unknown why tests can help us remember things, but the researchers have certain theories about it. It is believed that the connection between the tests and the learning process is made by the mediators. The mediators represent phrases, concepts or ideas, which make the connection between two different pieces of information. In order to see if the mediators are important from this point of view, Pyc asked 118 English-speaking volunteers to memorize 32 Swahili words. In order to help them remember the words with ease, she had 32 mediators which were represented by English words that resembled the ones from Swahili. “Wingu” in Swahili means cloud, so in order to learn the word the volunteers used the mediator “wing”. If the volunteers would remember the word wing they would be able to make the association as they would think about the sky, then clouds, and so on. Some of them tested themselves during the learning process whereas some of them didn’t. It was discovered that the ones who tested themselves benefited a lot more than the ones who did not tested themselves.
They had to complete three tests in which they were asked to translate the English word into Swahili, the Swahili word into English, and in the third one they had to remember the mediator as well. The ones who tested themselves did three times better than the other ones. Pyc said that it is much easier to remember certain words if we use these mediators, as the brain make the association much better. Unfortunately not too many students appreciate the tests, as it has been discovered that almost 50 percent of them cheat when they are tested. They do it in various manners, whether by looking at their colleague’s papers, or by writing the answers on a piece of paper, and then copying from it, and so on. They were aware of the fact that what they did was wrong, but they still do it anyway. It has been discovered that the boys cheat more than the girls, and that the type-a personalities are more likely to chat. There is no connection whatsoever between the morality of the individual and the cheating. If one cheats during class that does not mean that he will steal or commit crimes later in life. The reason why many students cheat is because they find the tests to be meaningless. It has also been discovered that the high-school students are the ones who cheat the most. The ones from middle school are afraid to cheat, whereas the ones from college do not cheat because they know that by doing so they would only harm their progress.11