LRC workshop teaches using color to organize studying


The Learning Resource Center hosted a workshop called “Color Coding Concepts” to teach students the usage of color as a learning tool on March 29, 2016 (photo by Itzin Alpizar)

Claire Bathory

At a workshop in the Learning Resource Center on Tuesday, American River College instructional assistant Cheryl Howell explained how color coding can help with both studying habits and daily life.

Howell, who works for Disabled Student Programs and Services (DSPS), separated the benefits of highlighting and colored writing into three parts: organization, memorization and concept formation.

Organization came before anything else.

“As soon as you have stress, your brain isn’t paying attention to learning, the two don’t go together. So, organization is the pathway to learning,” Howell said.

She littered her whiteboard with examples, like assigning different colors to plants and animals in a paragraph on the board and going down a multiplication table by using markers that complimented each other.

Studying mathematics could be made especially easier according to Howell, as long as the person starts from the top downward.

“You would start with primary colors and then just add (more) colors and you go down,” she said, adding that “It gets helpful when you start doing higher level math.”

Concept formation and memorization went hand in hand throughout the workshop, on from organization.

“If you’re going to use color coding, the most important thing to tell yourself is why something is blue. Why something is red. It’s in that connection that your brain is able to remember it and apply it,” Howell explained.

She added that “If you connect the color and the visual… you’ll be able to grasp the concepts of it all.”

When Howell asked if any students attending already used color coding, Sandy Xiong spoke up, saying “I use it every day,” and that she’d usually go back after classes and highlight terms.

Something that Howell was a strong proponent of throughout the workshop was the Google Calendar app.

“It’s an amazing tool,” Howell said.

“Once you use a calendar and go through literally everything you’re doing, (studying) becomes a piece of cake.”

When asked if the workshop had been helpful afterward, Luis Ferreira, an attending aerospace engineering major, agreed.
“Well, yeah, I would say so,” he responded, adding “I’m (going to) try with the calendar.”