Advent Calendar Day 14: Actions and pictures speak louder than words

In a series: ADEPT Teaching and Learning Advent Calendar 2016
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In Day 14 of ADEPT's Teaching & Learning Advent Calendar, Jill Fenton suggests ways to move beyond the written word.

This is the Day 14 post of ADEPT’s Teaching and Learning Advent Calendar, sent as an email on December 14th 2016.

Image shows a black and white dog sitting facing the camera in front of a red cloth tunnel.

Actions (& pictures) speak louder than words

Dr Jill Fenton points out that wordy PowerPoints can be a signal for students to switch off: after all, they can just read the slides later. If you have a slide that’s full of words, it could just be that you’re struggling to explain the concept and actually, words just aren’t enough.

Jill suggests replacing the words with one of two things: a diagram or image that sums up the concept better (animations can sometimes be very useful); or perhaps using an activity that students can take part in to model a process or explore its effects.

For example, if you want students to understand how a particular muscle works in walking, instead of describing it you could combine an animation with asking students (those who are able) to walk themselves. They can then reflect on how this feels and whether they can feel the muscle working (describing it to anyone who isn’t able to take part themselves).

Image by SoloStar, via