When you study, do you adopt a learning strategy?
Majority of us don’t. We just follow the general practice, like rereading things multiple times (without thinking), underlining stuff, etc. Experts say that these are the most ineffective and time consuming methods of study!
Is your teacher aware of any learning technique based on experimental evidences? Do they just come and teach the way they are doing for years without realizing what students are learning from their teaching methods?
There is so much research has happened about study techniques that it confuses even students and teachers.
A group of experts (Psychology professors), after reviewing more than 700 scientific articles on 10 commonly used learning techniques, have outlined 5 study methods that can give best results to students.
1. Practice Tests / Self-Testing
Students have regular tests throughout the year from unit tests to half-yearly and final term exams, pre-boards and boards examinations. These are conducted by School/Board to test students knowledge. Practice tests are students own way of testing their preparation. A student can choose different types of practice tests like online mock tests or can try some interactive games/quizzes.
Practice testing triggers a mental search of long-term memory that activates related information, forming multiple memory pathways that make the information easier to access.
Some online practice tests also generate report of the student’s performance and can identify weaker areas so that he/she can improve those things next time.
2. Distributed Learning / Spreading Study Time
In your textbooks, questions are topic wise, exercises at the end of the section and chapter, and that’s the way you learn them one by one. In the final exam, you are asked from everything that you have studied.
Distributing learning over time is more effective than mass study or cramming. For example, suppose, there are 5 study sessions for a topic. Student A complete each of 5 sessions back to back within a week, while student B scattered his study intervals by giving gap of 3-4 days. Then after couple of months, if a test is conducted on that topic, Student B is going to remember the concepts more than student A.
“Although it may not seem like it, you actually do retain information even during these long intervals, and you quickly relearn what you have forgotten. Long delays between study periods are ideal to retain fundamental concepts that form the basis for advanced knowledge.”
3. Elaborative Interrogation
Students who are inquisitive in nature are already using this technique,
Prompting students to answer “Why?” question, called elaborative interrogation, also facilitates learning.
This technique mostly benefits those students who have some prior knowledge about the topic/subject.
If you don’t question yourself, learning is not complete. What new information you have learned from this? Is it relatable to some knowledge you already have? How precisely you can use this thing in solving problems? All these are important questions to review.
This technique improves memory, comprehension and problem solving—an impressive range of outcomes.
5. Interleaved Practice
What is Interleaved practice in learning? It’s a bit different from block practice (where students finish one topic or type of problems, before moving on to the next).
Suppose a teacher is explaining problems related to a topic, after some days, when a new topic/new kind of problem is introduced, it is mixed in with examples of earlier topics. This method is more time consuming than the blocking practice but is effective when type of problems are similar.
Interleaving allows students to practice selecting the correct method and encourages them to compare different kinds of problems.