Apple | An evidence-based jolt

A jolt is an engaging learning activity that lasts for a brief period of time and illustrates one or more important learning points …  A typical jolt does not teach a skill. Instead, it helps you experience an important principle in action and provides you an “aha” moment … They capture your attention by startling you … During the activity, jolts encourage you to think about what you are doing and why you are doing it. After the activity, during the discussion, jolts encourage you to share your insights with other participants and to discover that different people have different perspectives.


I design a lot of activities using research published in the Harvard Business Review. There’s a regular feature called “Defend your research” which always inspires me to create a task, a discussion activity or in this case a jolt. Over the next couple of months, I’m going to try to share a few evidence-based activities on this blog.




This activity encourages metacognition and gets Ss to think about how their memory is not infallible and what that might mean for their performance or behaviour at work.


It might be a good idea for the T to read this HBR article – Defend your research: We can’t recall logos we see everyday.


Paper to draw on; the Apple logo on a slide or a printout; crayons and colouring pencils are optional


  • Take a quick poll to see if the Ss use any Apple products. Ask them work in triads to discuss which products they use, their experience overall with Apple and what they think of the brand.
  • Ask Ss to rate on a scale of 1 to 10, how familiar they are with the Apple brand (where 10 means extremely familiar). Have them write this number down.
  • Ask Ss to then rate how familiar they are with the Apple logo. (To make this interesting, ask them to draw a scale and then mark the two ratings on it).
  • Now ask Ss to draw the Apple logo. They can’t look at their phones, look it up on their phones and look in their bags. They must draw it from memory.
  • Once they’ve finished drawing, have them to compare their drawings with their neighbour. Then show them the actual logo and ask them to evaluate how near or far their drawings are from it. They should consider:
    • The shape of the apple
    • Where and how the bite mark is drawn.
    • Where and how the leaf is drawn
  • Get the Ss to take another look at the rating they gave themselves – how well do you know the Apple logo? Would they change the rating in light of this experience? What would they change it to?
  • Ss work in triads to discuss why most of them were over-confident about knowing the Apple logo.
  • Take whole class feedback and introduce the research:

“… there’s a lot of research proving we have a good memory for visual information. But we’re also dealing with attentional saturation. It would be overwhelming … to mentally record everything we see. So subconsciously we let some things fall away.”

The researchers thought that they would get different results with the Apple logo because it’s so ubiquitous. Of their 85 subjects …

“… only one got every part of the logo right, and just seven could draw it with three or fewer errors. And when we put the actual Apple logo in a line-up with seven altered versions, only 47% of people could identify it. We all know it looks like the fruit, but most of us don’t pay attention to the bite or the leaf. And that’s natural. We don’t burden ourselves with information we don’t think we’ll need to use.”

This fact most people are confident about drawing the logo is called “the availability heuristic: “I’ve seen this many times, so I should remember it.”

The researchers ran a similar experiment where office goers were asked to identify the location of the nearest fire extinguisher. Most got it wrong.

“In the study on fire extinguishers we also found evidence that people didn’t recall the location of the one nearest to them because they thought they knew where it should be—a phenomenon called gist memory. Several remarked that it was probably near the elevator and were surprised it wasn’t. We saw the same kind of thinking in the logo experiments. Many students assumed that if they were drawing a leaf, they should also draw a stem. In my own mind, the bite had teeth marks because no real bite is smooth. So our memories are contaminated by all the knowledge we’ve accumulated.”

  • Ask Ss to review this research and discuss its implications in the context of their own jobs. The researchers point to the following connection “Sometimes the information on the periphery is what leads us to the greatest insights, so
    we might want to fight our tendency to filter, our inattention, and our gist memory.”
  • The researchers suggest that failure and a greater understanding of metacognition – how our minds work- can help us combat these effects.

This activity worked well with my learners although the discussion was more about mindfulness in general rather than metacognition at work. I’d love to hear from you if you happen to run it in your classroom.


  • Castel, A. (2015) Defend your research: We can’t recall logos we see everyday in Harvard Business Review June 2015, pp.32-33.

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