Whiteboards might still have a place in your studying arsenal if you’re the handwriting type. In terms of size and usability, they can be a good investment.
In this article we’ll cover:
- 6 reasons you might want to use whiteboards
- Recommended whiteboards for studying
- Why they work (scientific evidence)
As a busy med student always looking for study hacks, whiteboards are something I can appreciate!
Ready to learn more?
6 Reasons to Use A Whiteboard for Studying
Whiteboards might seem a bit old school but here are some reasons they still rock…
1. Active Recall
Whiteboards are great for drawing things out from memory and pretending like you’re teaching a class. You stand in front of them, grab a marker and then start sketching things out. Pathways, mechanisms, summaries, lists, math – you can do it all.
Perfect for using powerful study strategies like the Feynman Technique, they force you to simplify complex ideas to better help you understand and encode them.
2. Visual Learners
Whiteboards are great for putting together mind maps to conceptually link topics together. This can help with subjects like anatomy for example, where you can link forms with functions and then various pathologies.
The same goes for making tables, charts of visual representations of data. A good whiteboard helps you capture it all in one place. Not restricting you by space.
You could even use them to make cool YouTube videos in the same way Armando Hasudungan does too.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about…
3. Productivity Hacks
Having a whiteboard front and center of your room as you go out or arrive in your house can be a powerful reminder of the personal goals you’ve set yourself. Tracking something like the don’t break the chain exercise, where each day’s work is marked by a long chain, can keep you motivated and focused.
The same goes for marking productive pomodoro sessions too. You’ll know exactly how many bursts of study you’ve done each day and how many you’ve got left.
4. Group Collaboration
Whiteboards have an edge over both laptop or iPads (tablets) as study tools when it comes to group collaboration. Due to their size, they can be worked on by more than one person at once. That makes them great for group-based presentations or plans.
Fit everything onto a board and things like tutoring becomes easier too. Check out how the massively popular AK Lectures uses whiteboard-based teaching to help thousands of people learn science…
5. Last Minute Exam Hack
One cool thing you can do on a whiteboard on the morning or evening of an exam is treat it like one big cheat sheet.
Condense all your notes or everything that’s in your head into one last board session. That’s a tip that this med student used in the run up to their exams. The results were reportedly very good!
Although a lot of the functionality of a whiteboard is matched by a tablet there is one more reason they might be a good acquisition; cost. You’ll save money with a board and some markers. You’ll also be less distracted by all the other stuff you could do on a digital device that could take you away from studying.
What’s more? You’ll also save on paper. All you need is a good cloth to erase a board clean and you can easily go again.
Why Are Whiteboards Good For Studying?
Aside from the reasons above, there is some scientific evidence that whiteboards can be a pretty effective tool for studying.
In this 2017 study in Advances for Physiology Education two groups of students were taught physiology (a pretty tough subject) with two different approaches, a whiteboarding approach and a non-whiteboarding approach.
Results showed that when whiteboard activities were incorporated in the course, student performance was higher when compared to those taught via lectures only.
My guess is that active recall, point number one on the list, probably had something to do with it.
What’s the Best Whiteboard for Studying?
It all depends on preference and what you’re looking for in terms of size. Because a lot of students usually move around a lot, whether it’s dorms to apartments etc, it can be a good idea to get something portable enough that can move with you.
For that reason Dry Erase Quartet whiteboards are pretty smart. These are just big plaster poster sized A1 sheets you can stick to any wall via electrostatic charge. That means they won’t cause marks either – something your landlords will inevitably be pleased about.
Otherwise maybe something magnetic could work, especially if you could stick it to your fridge after blasting out a useful summary etc.
Are Glass Whiteboards Good?
Glass whiteboards are a bit pricier but look nicer and are easier to clean and write on. Quartet has really nice options here too. Although they might be a little impractical for students who want the flexibility to move around with a drawing surface.
What Whiteboard for School?
Obviously being a medical student, my main priority is thinking about whether a whiteboard would be a good acquisition or not when it comes to my subject. For topics like biochem that involve the repeated drawing of pathways, I think they could prove very useful. Any of those recommendations above would be good in this regard.
Something that could also prove useful is a notebook sized whiteboard. These can be easily carried around and used in a variety of places. You could also take a photo of whatever you plan out on it too – thus keeping a digital record of your notes, erasing what’s on the board and carrying on like normal.
Perhaps something like this…
Buying a whiteboard you’re going to need to get an eraser and markers too. Don’t forget that.
What to Use a Whiteboard For Besides Studying
Here a couple more things you could use a whiteboard for beyond studying:
- Write down your daily or weekly study goals (and have them somewhere visible to serve as a reminder)
- Use them for decoration – or have your topic summaries up to look at passively when you’re sick of studying
You’ll see YouTuber Mason and Miles has quite a few good ideas…
Whiteboards might be a little old school but there’s plenty you can use them for when it comes to studying.
If you’re the type of student that really loves handwriting, making colorful summaries and mind maps, they might be something to consider.
Image Credit – @thisisengineering at Unsplash
Born and raised in the UK, Will went into medicine late (31) after a career in digital marketing and journalism. He’s into football (soccer), learned Spanish after 5 years in Spain, and has had his work published all over the web. Read more.