Do Pictures Really Help Learning?

At First Class Education, we love to help our teaching clients to thrive in their roles. This is why we always try to share interesting and helpful tips for teaching techniques. 

This article looks into whether using images as part of a revision strategy is actually helpful when it comes to improving recall. Research by Professor Robert Logie reveals the pros and cons of using images in your teaching methods.


At some point in our education, we all experienced the excitement of buying brand new stationery. New pencil cases bursting with the newest, coolest and most sickeningly brightly coloured felt tips and pencils – what a rush! Of course they served more of a purpose than just being new and shiny: they helped you to create beautiful revision notes full of mind maps and flowcharts and science diagrams (this was what every parent was convincingly told anyway). But the question remained as to whether these pictorial masterpieces actually did anything to aid revision.


Professor Robert Logie from the University of Edinburgh has conducted extensive research into this area of Psychology, focusing on the optimal conditions for learning and which mediums of information are best for aiding recall. He explains that the way we learn involves creating associations between separate pieces of information, and these are mapped onto neural pathways in our brain. These pathways are strengthened by repeated exposure to information, and this effect is significantly improved when images are involved.


If you sensed a “but” coming, you were right.


The images that we use in learning must be related to and reinforce the other information we are being asked to memorise, otherwise the reverse effect can occur. For instance, if you’re being asked to remember the psychological process of reinforcement, and your textbook has used an image of a dog, this isn’t going to help very much. So although teachers may think that jazzing up PowerPoint Presentations with funky GIF animations and Clip Art cartoons, this might not actually be doing their students any good.


The Professor maintains that something does need to be said for using images to aid recall, and that this is a proven technique for revision purposes. The only thing that you have to make sure is that they make sense and are relevant – that means no more falling apple animations when teaching students about physics equations…


If you’d like to read more about this topic, head to the article: or if you are a Teacher looking for opportunities in Primary, Secondary, SEN or Support Staff roles, please get in touch to find out how First Class Education can help you.