Hey, I Just Found Out Why Your Students Don’t Follow Directions

How your directions are typed

can dramatically affect student performance.



Well, you know students often don’t follow the directions on an assignment?

The font alone can affect their perception of the task in two ways. 

  1. Font altered people’s perceived difficulty of a task
  2. Font affected their willingness to perform a task

Here’s the deal:

Researchers wanted to see how the perceived length of time would affect people’s commitment to an exercise program.  They expected that a longer estimated time would mean people would be less likely to commit to doing the routine.  They decided to test two groups of people.

The first group saw exercises in simple font, while the second group was presented with the exact same text in a difficult to read font.

People who saw the first font (Arial) thought the exercise would take about 8.2 minutes:

People who saw the second font (Brush) estimated that it would take about 15.1 minutes.

Text fonts change user estimates of time for exercise.


It gets worse…

Participants reported that the directions in Brush would not only take longer, but also require more skill.
Additionally, they would be less willing to perform the exercise because of perceived difficulty.

Think for a minute what that means.

The font you choose for class directions affects how long students think it will take, how difficult, and how willing they are to actually do it!

Similar studies have been conducted in multiple fields. 

Next time you complain about your students not following directions, make sure your font is working in your favor.

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