Looking through my high school notebooks, I found the margins crowded with various doodles. From flowers, to shading of boxes, almost every single page of notes had some sort of drawing. I brought this to the attention of my mom, who proceeded to show me her notebooks – also filled with an abundance of doodles. She told me that it always helped her to focus in lectures if she drew in the margins. My teachers, on the other hand, had mixed emotions about my dependency on doodling. Most didn’t mind – but the ones who did, got really bent out of shape about it, saying it was a distraction to learning the material in their class (sad). So, I want to dig deeper and see if doodling is advantageous or not.
Thankfully, Jackie Andrade published this study supporting the hypothesis that doodling is advantageous and helps you pay more attention. In the study, 40 subjects were randomized and split into two groups and listened to a 2 minute voice recording: one group was told to shade shapes throughout the duration of the tape, the other just sat there merely listening.
The Hypothesis: The doodling subjects will have demonstrate a higher rate of remembering the tape
Null Hypothesis: Doodling will have zero impact of remembrance of voicemail
Causation: Doodling enables subjects to more accurately pay attention
Reverse Causation: Subjects that pay attention tend to doodle more
Third Confounding Variables: Individuals attention span (ADHD/ADD/etc)
After listening to the tape, the subjects had to regurgitate what they remembered from the past 2 minutes. Out of 16 facts, the doodlers on average remembered 7.5 pieces compared to the 5.8 of non-doodlers. From this study, doodlers were 29% more likely to retain the information than non. Meaning the hypothesis was supported. Could this be linked to daydreaming? Often times in class if I do NOT doodle, I find myself daydreamer for the entire duration of lecture, but doodling helps me refrain from doing so.
On the contrary…
Though I cheered inside reading Andrade’s conclusion on the benefits of doodling, not all research supports her hypothesis. In fact, Elaine Chan found that doodling had a negative impact on visual recalling, which is logical because if subjects are doodling and trying to recall visuals, the attention may be split- but at least the research doesn’t suffer from file drawer problem!
Though it is not concrete enough evidence to advocate for doodling during lectures, it could definitely benefit if you struggle from daydreaming, like myself! Mind though, focusing too much on doodling rather than your professor could actually negatively impact you in the long run. So, if you decide to try doodling next lecture, try letting it be subconscious rather than your main focus. Happy Doodling!
Cloud, John. “Study: Doodling Helps You Pay Attention.” Time. Time Inc., 2009. Web. 01 Dec. 2016.
Hughes, Charlotte, and Scott Asakawa. “Keep Calm and Doodle On.” PBS. PBS, 28 July 2014. Web. 01 Dec. 2016.