Sometimes it is difficult to encourage an eleven plus child to read the instructions at the beginning of a test - after all once the candidate has read the `blurb’ once – why read it again?
There was some research some time ago where `subjects’ were shown a variety of posters. Some of the posters were of single scenes, others multiple scenes – and some were of a serial nature. In one experiment there were two posters of a` before and after’ nature. The first poster showed a worker wearing goggles at work – and same worker off duty looking prosperous and well dressed. The second poster showed a worker at a grindstone with no goggles and the same worker now blind and dressed very poorly.
The results showed that some `subjects’ found the vertical and horizontal associations difficult. The message of the posters was sometimes missed. The careless nature of the worker without goggles was not always associated with the well-dressed worker.
It was also found that captions did not always direct attention to the underlying message.
It helped considerable when the posters were redesigned with the `good’ or careful workers wearing the same clothes. It was also found that the faces on the posters had to be of a similar shape and colour.
Then the same tests were undertaken with simple geometric shapes offering the same message. When strong colours were added the understanding of the message was much stronger.
Is there a message in these findings for authors and publishers of eleven plus material? Could the instructions be presented in a more inviting manner? After all when we tell a bright ten year old something once – do we always need to keep repeating the same message?
What symbols could we use to encourage a candidate to read questions carefully?