So today I walked into my local book shop and went and had a rummage around the revision guide area searching for inspiration for my own design work and to also assess what is currently available in the retail high-street marketplace. In addition I wanted to compare the products that i’ve been researching with the reality of consumable revision aides.
Whilst there is much research that focuses on the translation of content from print to digital – it would appear that there might be a gap in the field for research regarding the opposite – how digital content and website characteristics have influenced print! By reviewing some of the revision guides on offer it became apparent that the designer aimed to ease transition through the book by incorporating guidance icons that one might expect to see in an e-learning course or as part of a website. See below for examples:
This guide came with a DVD that had some audio and video content within it and also an electronic copy of the book. In addition you could go online for interactive tests and more. One thing that did strike me about this guide was that the colour schemes used within the contents were very limited and, in my opinion based on my research so far, wouldn’t necessarily assist with student progression and cognition. For example ‘Exam tip’ and ‘Remember’ are the same colour but should be distinguishable I feel to aid quicker identification of specific pieces of information. It also seems odd that almost all of the copy on this page is a ‘Key fact’ – this could create cognitive overload in the reader as there are too many so called ‘key facts’ to absorb and retain.
Below is an example of another guide I reviewed that used colour more succinctly in differentiating between topic and content types:
The contents are also better laid out than Example A in that copy flows easier and key points are pulled out in orange feature boxes. (See my separate blog on the use of orange.) Or indeed alternative coloured feature boxes that are colour coded according to their revision format type.
Another interesting feature to note here is the use of recognisable features such as faces in conveying concepts and encouraging readers to adopt in their own graphical representations of data analysis. There is much research in the area of recognisable shapes assisting with data-transfer (e.g.: PLASS, J. L. et al. (2014))
In my research regarding the use of colour and shapes to enhance learning there is all much research that confirms that over use of colour and graphics can actually be detrimental to students, particularly those with learning or communication disabilities. (e.g.: HETZRONI, O. E. and NE’EMAN, A. (2013)). The example seen below would fall into this category – the pages are far too busy and confusing with no structure:
Below are two further layouts that I found which I believe to be the best of those that I reviewed. They are both cleaner in their layouts and offer a more consistent use of colour. Example E in particular has a great layout that reads easily on the eye, content is blocked into lengths that are not too difficult to digest and key learning points and tips are puled out of the main content and colour-coded accordingly. The use of icons also assists with easy recognition of key data and data types and will aide data retention.
Going forward in my practice work I will refer to these guides when considering the layout of my work. It is clear to see here that layouts available in the commercial market vary wildly and that consistency is required if I am to successfully achieve deep-learning within my work.
HETZRONI, O. E. and NE’EMAN, A. (2013) Influence of colour on acquisition and generalization of graphic symbols. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research. 57 (7). p.669-680.
PLASS, J. L. et al. (2014) Emotional design in multimedia learning: Effects of shape and color on affect and learning. Learning and Instruction. 29. p.128-140.