Top 2 Researched and Tested Learning Strategies every School Educator should know!

By: Admin 25 April, 2017

Research in cognitive psychology has made a huge contribution to our understanding of how humans learn. Unfortunately, however, the results of this important research haven’t made it into mainstream education. Below strategies have been identified as particularly effective when employed either by a teacher in the classroom or by students during independent study. Yet it appears these learning strategies are not featured in teacher-training textbooks.


Teachers are missing out on valuable teaching styles and students are missing out on effective study techniques. Here are two most valuable learning tools: spaced practice and retrieval practice.


Spaced Practice

A much more effective way to learn is to make sure students encounter material on the same topic multiple times throughout the semester. The same amount of time spent engaging with a topic will produce greater learning when it is spaced out over time, rather than massed in one study session.


Cramming might technically work in that it might enable a student to pass an exam, the knowledge they acquire from cramming sessions will be very transient. Spacing out studying might take more planning, but it is much more efficient and effective in the long run.


How can teachers model spaced practice and encourage students to space their own learning?


  • Start each class with a quick review of an important topic from a few months ago.

  • Use homework to introduce spacing—instead of giving homework just on today’s class, include questions that cover topics from previous weeks and even months.

  • Help students by planning ahead with them—have them write short study sessions into their schedules, even when they don’t have an exam coming up.



Retrieval Practice

Most teachers (and students) think of quizzes as assessments: They are taken to find out how much a student knows about a topic. But what if we told you that taking a quiz (or doing any activity that forces you to bring information to mind from memory) actually helps you learn? Hundreds of studies over the past decade have demonstrated that retrieving information from memory is a more effective method of studying than rereading or even rewriting one’s class materials.

How can teachers include retrieval practice activities in the classroom?

  • Make sure that when questions are asked in class, all students have a chance to write down their answers, rather than relying on one student to answer the question.

  • Make use of free self-scoring apps to give frequent, time-efficient quizzes. (There are many of these apps; examples include Socrative, Google Forms, etc.)

  • Have students take a piece of paper and write out the key points from last week’s class—this combines both retrieval practice and spacing.


Effective Study Strategies are Hard to apply

Other than being supported by hundreds of research studies, spaced practice and retrieval practice have another thing in common: They may not feel very good to the learner.

For example, when students re-read a text over and over again, they will predict better performance than when they put the text away and try to write it out from memory. This is because reading the same text gets easier and easier, whereas writing the text from memory feels hard. But it is this effort known as a ‘desirable difficulty’ that actually promotes learning.


The same can be said for spaced practice. When a student encounters material after a long gap, they will have forgotten some of it and will have difficulty engaging with it again, but this extra effort of relearning the slightly forgotten information will boost learning over time.


This article has excerpts  from Edutopia. Read the original here.