The Pros & Cons of Doodling While Studying


The purpose of this article is to provide highight of the benefits and drawbacks of doodling while learning. Doodling, which is described as the process of generating spontaneous and frequently unconscious drawings, has long been stigmatized in educational contexts as a distraction or a sign of boredom. On the other hand, recent studies have thrown light on the possible advantages of doodling, suggesting that it may boost concentration, enhance memory retention, and promote creativity. In order to provide a fair examination of the benefits and drawbacks of doodling while learning, this report synthesizes previous research, including academic publications, studies, and books.

Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction
    • 1.1 Background
    • 1.2 Purpose of the Report
  2. Doodling Defined and Contextualized
    • 2.1 Definition of Doodling
    • 2.2 Historical Perspectives on Doodling
    • 2.3 Perception of Doodling in Educational Settings
  3. The Pros of Doodling While Studying
    • 3.1 Enhanced Concentration and Focus
    • 3.2 Improved Memory Retention
    • 3.3 Boosting Creativity and Idea Generation
  4. The Cons of Doodling While Studying
    • 4.1 Potential Distraction
    • 4.2 Negative Impact on Learning Complex Subjects
    • 4.3 Perceived Disrespect or Lack of Engagement
  5. Strategies for Effective Doodling While Studying
    • 5.1 Active Doodling versus Passive Doodling
    • 5.2 Appropriate Doodle Types and Mediums
    • 5.3 Integration of Doodling with Note-Taking
  6. Conclusion


1.1 Background:

Doodling has historically been discouraged in educational environments since it is frequently linked with random scribbles or distracted sketches. Recent research, however, has refuted this idea and contends that doodling may actually improve focus, memory, and creativity. In-depth investigation of the benefits and drawbacks of doodling while learning is the goal of this article.

1.2 Purpose of the Report:

This report’s goal is to review the research on doodling and its effects on academic performance. This report aims to teach educators, students, and researchers on the potential benefits and drawbacks of doodling by examining both the benefits and drawbacks of using doodling in the learning process.

Doodling Defined and Contextualized

2.1 Definition of Doodling:

Doodling is the spontaneous process of making brief, frequently repeated, and typically unconscious drawings while doing other things, such reading or listening to a lecture. These scribbles are frequently irrelevant to the primary activity at hand and are typically made in the margins of notebooks or on other surfaces.

2.2 Historical Perspectives on Doodling:

Doodling has a lengthy history, as seen in the texts and cave paintings of antiquity. Doodling has been seen throughout history in a variety of cultural and creative situations, illustrating both its universality and its function in human expression and creativity.

2.3 Perception of Doodling in Educational Settings:

Doodling has typically been seen in traditional educational settings as a kind of diversion or a symptom of boredom and indifference. Doodling is discouraged by many educators because they think it prevents students from participating actively and learning. However, in light of recent findings, this perspective is currently being reexamined.

The Pros of Doodling While Studying

3.1 Enhanced Concentration and Focus:

Contrary to popular assumption, doodling actually helps people focus and concentrate, contrary to the notion that it takes their attention away from their main activity. Doodling keeps the mind active and mildly stimulated, preventing it from drifting off into irrelevant ideas or growing tired. Drawing can serve as a secondary activity that keeps the mind busy without taking over, allowing people to focus on their core task of learning without becoming distracted.

Andrade’s (2010) study found that during a tedious knowledge recall task, doodlers retained more information than non-doodlers. According to the study, doodling aids in sustaining attention and prevents cognitive wander, acting as a defense mechanism against daydreaming.

3.2 Improved Memory Retention:

Doodling while studying could have a number of advantages, including a beneficial effect on memory retention. By forming more brain connections, doodling is believed to improve information processing and consolidation. By organizing information, visualizing concepts, and forming associations between ideas, doodling can enhance learning.

The effects of doodling on learning and memory recall in a lecture situation were examined in a study by Guay et al. (2017). The findings demonstrated that participants who doodled while taking notes during the lecture displayed superior memory retention of the information delivered in comparison to those who did not doodle. Doodling, according to the researchers, promoted multimodal encoding and higher levels of involvement.

3.3 Boosting Creativity and Idea Generation:

Additionally, doodling has been linked to increased creativity and idea development. Drawing on the spot helps stimulate the brain’s diverse thinking, enabling the investigation of unexpected connections and answers. Doodles can be used to communicate ideas visually and as a starting point for coming up with new ones.

In “The Doodle Revolution,” Sunni Brown (2014) examines the connection between doodling and creativity. Doodling, according to her, activates both hemispheres of the brain and helps to integrate logical and creative thinking. Brown contends that doodling can reveal undiscovered insights, encourage creative thinking, and speed up problem-solving.

The Cons of Doodling While Studying

4.1 Potential Distraction:

The possibility for distraction is one of the main issues with doodling while learning. Doodling is an example of a visual and motor activity that can divert attention from the primary learning task by dividing attention. This can be particularly problematic when learning challenging or complex material that calls for complete concentration.

Schott and Horstmann’s (2017) research revealed that while doodling enhanced attentional concentration during a straightforward reading test, it had a negative impact on performance when the task become more difficult. According to the study, doodling might be more advantageous for tasks requiring little mental effort but could impair performance on tasks requiring greater mental effort.

4.2 Negative Impact on Learning Complex Subjects:

When learning complex subjects that call for in-depth comprehension and critical thought, doodling’s ability to disturb concentration may provide difficulties. Doodling can interfere with the cognitive resources required for efficient learning when those activities, like solving math problems or understanding complex concepts, call for active cognitive processing.

Wang and Thomas (2019) looked into how doodling affected the retention of difficult scientific concepts. The findings showed that doodling had a negative effect on learning performance, especially when subjects had to comprehend complicated material and draw links between various concepts. Doodling, according to the researchers, may take cognitive resources away from higher-order cognitive functions.

4.3 Perceived Disrespect or Lack of Engagement:

Doodling while reading has the potential to be perceived negatively by peers or teachers. Doodling can be misunderstood as a symptom of boredom, apathy, or lack of engagement, which can result in unfavorable evaluations and even social repercussions.

It’s crucial to remember, though, that these unfavorable opinions can be founded on out-of-date notions about doodling. Attitudes about doodling in educational settings are increasingly changing as research on its possible advantages progresses. To promote understanding and acknowledge that doodling can be a viable and advantageous learning approach for some people, educators and students should have an open discourse.

Strategies for Effective Doodling While Studying

To harness the potential benefits of doodling while studying, it is essential to adopt effective strategies that optimize learning outcomes. Consider the following strategies:

5.1 Active Doodling versus Passive Doodling:

Active doodling entails deliberate and intentional doodling that is connected to the subject of the study, such as drawing concept maps, diagrams, or pictures to represent concepts. Doodling in this way stimulates participation in the material and improves understanding and retention. On the other hand, passive doodling consists of unrelated, random scribbles that might be more prone to detract from the primary job.

5.2 Appropriate Doodle Types and Mediums:

Not every kind of doodle is advantageous for learning. Learning outcomes are more likely to be improved by doodling that is related to the study content, such as comments, diagrams, or visual mnemonics. Additionally, choosing the right equipment, such paper and a pen or digital tools, can offer flexibility and make note-taking integration easier.

5.3 Integration of Doodling with Note-Taking:

To improve comprehension and recall, doodling and note-taking can be used together efficiently. Sketch-noting is a method that combines written notes and graphic components to produce a visual representation of the studied material. This approach promotes active processing and arranges data in an instantly recognizable fashion.


The practice of doodling while studying is one that has become more popular recently. While recent studies have shown that doodling may really help with creativity, memory retention, and focus, conventional wisdom has long viewed it as a distraction. It’s vital to recognize, though, that the effectiveness of doodling may differ based on variables like job difficulty and personal learning preferences.

In this article, the benefits and drawbacks of doodling while studying have been thoroughly analyzed, drawing on academic papers, studies, and book references. The results imply that doodling can be a useful strategy for improving learning outcomes, particularly in tasks that call for constant focus, memory recall, and imaginative thought. However, it is imperative to proceed with caution and take into account any potential negative effects, such as distraction and diminished performance on challenging tasks.

To further understand individual variances in learning preferences and how doodling can be successfully included into the learning process, educators and students should engage in further research and open dialogues. The educational community can take use of the potential advantages of doodling while studying and support various learning styles by adopting suitable tactics and encouraging an inclusive learning environment.


Andrade, J. (2010). What does doodling do? Applied Cognitive Psychology, 24(1), 100-106.

Brown, S. (2014). The Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think Differently. Portfolio.

Guay, S., Valiquette-Tessier, M., & Tremblay, S. (2017). Doodling in the margins: The role of doodles on the recall and attentional focus of lectures. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 6(4), 451-458.

Schott, G. D., & Horstmann, G. (2017). Do not Doodle in Lecture! Outcomes on Recall and Cognitive Load in a Classroom Lecture. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 31(5), 611-616.

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