Scribbling as a learning strategy

Kati Orav
2 min readMay 8, 2021


There is a common opinion that scribbling — aimless doodling or pattering is a good strategy for learning. Quite a number of experiences have shown that it scares away boredom, helps to concentrate, and be in present. That it is better to scribble than do nothing while listening to important information.

However, researchers from Canada have proven the opposite. Scribbling does not help memorize information. So, let's talk about this research.

In 2018 (the study was published in 2019), Meade, Wammes, and Fernandes studied drawing, scribbling, conscious doodling, and note-taking as tools for better learning and memorizing information. They point out that the phrase “one picture speaks more than a thousand words” is a common expression, but very little cognitive research has to be put aside to prove it. They conducted 3 different experiments, where after each activity there was a test for the memorized information. 3 test groups participated:
- scribblers or later the conscious doodlers;
- the group where the participants drew the word they heard;
- the group where participants wrote the word they heard.

  1. In the first experiment, the words were simply listed.
    The drawers got the best results. The scribblers did the worst.
  2. In the second experiment, the words were put into a story to create a real-life situation.
    The drawers and writers got the best results. The scribblers did the worst again.
  3. In the third experiment, it was again about telling a story, but here the scribbling was replaced by conscious doodling which meant here a shading of given figures.
    The drawers got the best results again. Doodlers got the same results as the writers.

    So, the experiments show us that scribbling is not a good tool for memorizing information. It can be a good tool for meetings where you have to stay focused ( or do not want to be bored… :)) and don't need to remember things later. But in school, teachers have every right to ask students not to scribble. Actually, teachers should guide students to use conscious doodling or even more- to use drawing and note-taking as a tool for learning.



Kati Orav

I encourage people to dream bigger and be more creative and entrepreneurial. For that, I teach them how to use the Magic of an Imperfect Line.