Contrary to a prevalent learning styles hypothesis, our findings indicate that what best characterizes a self-reported 'visual thinker' is not that this individual learns better with pictures and worse with words, but rather that when presented with words or pictures this person tends to generate a mental image to help with later recollection or reasoning. Similarly, 'verbal thinkers' appear to mentally label pictures that they encounter. Surprisingly, this dual coding actually affords an advantage to verbal strategies in some visual tasks, consistent with Paivio’s earlier theories. Moreover, some of our findings suggest that these verbal strategies may be useful even for visual thinkers. Future studies can test if a valid approach would be to teach students to study certain topics using strategies they would not normally employ.
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