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Center for Teaching Excellence

East Tennessee State University

Dual Code Theory

Dual Code Theory
What is Dual Code Theory?

Which of the following instructional methods do you think would best help you to learn about volcano eruptions?

  1. Hearing someone describe (or reading about) what happens.
  2. Looking at a diagram of a volcano eruption.
  3. Looking at a diagram of a volcano eruption while someone describes (or you read about) what happens.

Dual Code Theory (DCT) suggests that individuals learn best when information is represented using both verbal and visual methods.

The argument behind this theory is that two methods of processing information will assist with better and more efficient encoding and storage of that information in the brain, as each type of processing (verbal and visual) has strengths and limitations.


How Can I Teach in a Way That Capitalizes on Dual Code Theory?

1. Offer visual examples after (or while) verbally describing a concept.

  • Use a photograph or pictorial representation of the concept.
  • Use a diagram of the concept.
  • Use a video clip of the concept.


2. Draw while you talk. Your art need not be perfect for this to assist students.

  • Create rough picture representations of the key concepts. Stick figures are entirely acceptable.
  • Draw a concept map as you talk (or as students contribute information in a discussion).
  • Organize verbal information into a table.
  • Organize verbal information into a chart.
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