Microsoft claims in their Windows 10 press release that drawing diagrams leads to 36% higher scores when solving science problems.

More than 70% of people spend more than one hour a day using a pen. Yet, we lose notes in our notebooks, take pictures of whiteboards, and don’t have the option to do equations or music composition with a keyboard. Writing is also a key part of the creative and learning process. Studies indicate students learn better by writing. For example, diagramming before solving a science problem can lead to 36% higher scores.

Is this claim supported by any research?

1 Answer 1


See page 61 of The Design of Future Educational Interfaces :

An analysis of matched pairs of problems revealed that when biology students constructed diagrams their scores averaged 36% ... In addition to facilitating hypothesis generation, students' active construction of diagrams and thinking marks was associated with 25–36% higher problem-solution scores, compared with matched problems in which students did no marking.

Which is based upon: The Impact of Interface Affordances on Human Ideation, Problem Solving, and Inferential Reasoning ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI) Volume 19 Issue 3, October 2012 Article No. 22 :

2.2.4. Active Pen Marking Associated with Improved Problem Solving. All 16 students produced both diagrams and informal thinking marks while working on biology problems. As shown in Figure 6(a), an analysis of matched pairs of problems revealed that when students constructed diagrams, their scores averaged significantly higher than when they did not ( ¯x = 82% vs. 46%, respectively), paired t = 4.27 (df 19), p < 0.001, one-tailed. This difference represents a substantial 36% absolute improvement.

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