Education is an experience everyone is subjected to from a young age, many educators believe that their ability to teach effectively relies on instinct and experience (Book, Byers, & Freeman, 1983). But the retention of information could be affected by something a subtle as how its presented, and how much cognitive burden is required to decipher it. Diemand-Yauman, Oppenheimer and Vaughan argue that reading material should be presented in a disfluent font as they found it is better remembered than the same material in a fluent font. This is because it requires more cognition to read the material thus improving retention. More cognitive engagement leads to deeper processing, which facilitates encoding and subsequently better retrieval (Craik & Tulving, 1975).
For example, Craik and Tulving conducted a research that required the learners to encode words at different levels: shallow, intermediate and deep. Shallow levels required less cognitive burdening than deep its was found that retention and recall was generally higher with deeper encoding, where ‘depth refers to greater degrees of semantic involvement’ (Craik & Tulving, 1975). Richland, Bjork, Finley, & Linn, 2005 found that when conditions introduced difficulties for the learner, the rate of learning was slowed but long term retention was significantly enhanced. The introduction of ‘desirable difficulties’ (Bjork, 1994) such as produces asking the learner to generate information through testing increased cognitive burdening creating enhanced learning.
It’s a common misconception that learning material should be designed in a way to decrease unnecessary demands on working memory (Lehmann, Goussios and Seufert, 2017). However, it’s be posited that less legible texts lead to better learning due to the added demands on working memory. Increasing the perceived difficulty associated with a cognitive task stimulates deeper processing and a more analytic and elaborative reasoning (Lehmann, Goussios and Seufert, 2017). Eitel et al. 2014 conducted research into whether a less legible text would be beneficial to learning. In line with disfluency theory, a disfluent text led to better performance in the transfer test and to more invested mental effort (Eitel et al. 2014)
Disfluent text has been found to benefit those with learning disabilities in particular people with dyslexia. French et al found that changing the font to a slightly harder to read form lead to better retention and subsequent recall of information. Especially when students with dyslexia were presented with the disfluent font their retention and recall was significantly enhanced (French et al. 2013).
Sungkhasettee et al. (2011), found that when participants studied inverted and upright words the recall was greater for inverted words. It was posited that as reading inverted words produced desirable difficulties causing more cognitive processing